Skip to main content

Full text of "The Wing Serpent"

See other formats

125 127 

This book is published on the same day in the Dominion 
of Canada by Longmans, Green & Company, Toronto. 


CHAPTER I The Power of the Word 19 

CHAPTER II The Influence o Christianity on the 

Aboriginal Cultures of America 53 

SECTION ONE: From the Northern Wood- 
lands* the Basin Area and the Great Plains 

Song sung over a dying person (Chippewa) 75 

Dream song (Chippewa) 76 

Love song (Chippewa) 77 

A woman's song (Chippewa) 78 

Love song (Chippewa) 79 

Prayer to the Sun (Blackfoot) 80 

The buffalo rock (Northern Blackfoot) 81 

The origin of death (Coeur D'Alene) 84 

Smohalla speaks (Net Perce) 85 

The surrender speech of Chief Joseph (Net Perce) 87 

Two morning speeches (Nez Perce) 88 

Cottontail Boy and Snowshoe Rabbit (Nez Perce) 89 

Warrior song (Crow) 91 

The seven stars (Assiniboinc) 98 

A Prayer (Assiniboine) 93 

Prayer of a warrior (Assiniboine) 95 

Myth of creation (Osagc) 96 

From the rite of vigil (Osage) 98- 
The song of the maize (Osage) 
The weaver's lamentation (O.sage) 
A warrior's song from the mourning rite (Osage) 

A warrior's song of defiance (Osage) 
The Heavens are speaking (Pawnee) 


The corn spirit- '- (-Sktd^Bawn&e) 106 

War song {Pawnee) 109 

The poor boy and the mud ponies (Pawnee) no 

Spirit land ' (Pawnee) 1 12 

Coyote and the origin of deatli (Caddo) 117 

The request for supernatural help (Teton Sioux) 120 

Two Dream Songs of Siydka' (Teton Sioux) 121 

Opening prayer of the sun dance (Teton Sioux) 123 

Prayer spoken during the sun dance (Teton Sioux) 123 

Two Songs of encouragement (Teton Sioux) 124 

Song of a man who received a vision (Teton Sioux) 125 

Song of failure (Teton Sioux) 126 

Last song of Sitting Bull (Teton Sioux) 127 

Ohiyesa remembers the past (Sioux) 128 

A woman joins her lover in death (Dakota) 130 

A song of the Heyoka ceremony (Dakota) 133 

Warrior song of the Hethushka society (Omaha) 133 

Warrior song (Omaha) 134 

Tribal prayer (Omaha) 135 

Farewell, my nation! Farewell, Black Hawk! , 136 

Black Hawk's Dedication to General Atkinson 142 

A sequence of songs of the Ghost Dance religion 143 

The man who was in search of the manitous (Fox) 145 

The man who reproached the manitous (Fox) 149 

A speech to the dead (Fox) 151 

Lamentation (Fox) 154 

Speech of the Owl (Fox) 153 

The story of My Ancestor Weshgishega (Winnebago) 156 

A Prayer (Winnebago) 160 

The Seneca chief Red Jacket addresses a missionary 161 

From the Big House Ceremony (Delaware) 166 

Lamentation (Iroquois) 170 

SECTION TWO: From the Southeast 

Formula to attract affections (Cherokee) 175 



Formula to destroy life (Cherokee') 178 

Origin of the Pleiades and the Pine (Cherokee) 179 

SECTION THREE: From the Deserts of the 


The War God's horse song (Navajo) 183 

A prayer of the Night Chant (Navajo) 186 

Song of the Black Bear (Navajo) 187 

Birth of White Shell Woman (Navajo) 189 

Rain song (Pima) 192 

War song (Papago) 193' 

Dream song of a woman (Papago) 195 

Death song (Papago) 196 

Ceremonial sun song (Papago) 197 

Two rain songs (Papago) 198 

From the autobiography of a Papago woman 199 

Song to pull down the clouds (Papago) aosj 

A Prayer (Havasupai) 203 

The power that failed (Chiricahua) 204 

Songs of maturation (Chiricahua) ao6 

Two love songs (Chiricahua) ao8 

Prayer after singing Gahd songs (Chiricahua) 209 

The Mountain Spirits and the old woman an 


Songs of the Masked Dancers (Apache) 213 
Song of the Gotal Ceremony (Mescalero Apache) 2x6 

SECTION FOUR: From the Pueblos 

Song of the sky loom (Tewa) am 

That mountain far away (Tewa) *** 

The willows by the waterside (Tewa) s3 

The origin of death (Cochiti) 324 

Songs of the departing spirit (Santo Domingo) s*6 

Song of a child's spirit (Santo Domingo) s7 


A Katcina song (Zuni) S*9 
Prayer spoken while presenting an infant to the Sun 231 


The growth o the corn (Zuni) 233 

A woman mourns her husband (Zuni) 235 

Prayer to the Ancients after harvesting (Zuni) 238 

Creation myth (Zuni) 24 

Rain song (Sia) 243 

The return to the old Gods (Hopf) 244 

SECTION FIVE: From California 

A Paiute autobiography 257 

Coyote and death (Wintu) 261 

Song of the spirit (Luisefid) 262 

The Creation myth (Lui$eno) 263 

Curing song (Yuma) 265 
A medicine man tells of his curing power (Yuma) 266 
The Creator, the Snake, and the Rabbit (Maricopa) 267 

Why humans sing for their sick and their dead 270 


A Prayer (Yakuts, California) 271 

Gudatrugakwitl and the creation (Wishosk") 272 

SECTION SIX: From the Northwest 

Medicine Formula (Takelma, Oregon) 277 

Love song (Nootkd) 278 

Song to bring fair weather (Nootka) 279 

Plaint against the fog (Nootka) 279 

Love song of the dead (KwakiutT) 380 

Prayer to the young cedar (Kwakiutl) *8i 

Parting song (Kwakiutl) s8 

Prayer of a man who found a dead killer whale 283 


Prayer of a mother whose child died (Kwakiutl) 285 

The image that came to life (Tlingit) 286 

Three songs from the Northwest (Tlingit) 288 
Two mourning songs from the Northwest (Tlingit) 289 
Speeches delivered at a feast for the dead (Tlingit) ago 

SECTION SEVEN: From the Far North 

Improvised song of joy (Iglulik Eskimo) 295 
From the childhood memories of the Eskimo woman 

Tokomaq 296 

Shamans and their training (Caribou Eskimo) 297 

The land of heaven (Caribou Eskimo) 301 

Ulivfak's song of the Caribou (Caribou Eskimo) 302 

Dance song (Copper Eskimo) 303 

Utitiaq's song (Cumberland Sound Eskimo) 305 


Prayer to the God Titlacaoan (Aztec) 309 

Lamentation (Aztec) 310 

A song of exhortation (Aztec) 312 

A song by Nezahualcoyotl (Aztec) 314 

Love song (Aztec) 316 

About the education of the priests in Mexico 317 

Nodh, The story of the biblical flood (Zapotec) 319 

The Eagle and the Moon Goddess (Cora) 323 

The Creation (Uitoto) 325 

SECTION NINE: From Central America 

A Maya prophecy (Yucatdn) 329 

Three fragments from the Book of Chilara 

Balam Chumayel (Maya) 330 

Prayer before preparing milpa (Maya) 333 

A letter by Montejo Xiu (Maya) 334 



Supplication to the creator god (Inca) 341 

Love song from the Andes (Inca) 343 

Peruvian dance song (Ayacucho) 344 

Bibliography, Text 345 

Bibliography, Anthology 350 

The Indian as author 358 

Index 361 


It lies in the nature of an anthology that it never can be 
wholly complete externally. Bui internally it can be integral for 
the simple reason that it usually has its source in a personal ex- 
perience of great intensity: it is this very personal experience 
that may shape a compilation of many, more or less discon- 
nected, ilems into the whole of what one could call a personal 

At the incipient stage of this collection I benefited greatly 
from the understanding guidance of the late Dr. Vladimir As- 
trov, versed in the lore and literature of many peoples. 

I am under obligations to Dr. Leslie Spier, professor of an- 
thropology of the University of New Mexico, who, at considerable 
expense of time, read the manuscript at various stages of com- 
pletion and aided me with invaluable counsel. 

My thanks are due to Professor Clark Wissler of the American 
Museum of Natural History, to Dr. Herbert J. Spinden of The 
Brooklyn Museum, and to Professor Ruth Benedict of Columbia 
University for their kindness in reading the manuscript and for 
their stimulating comments. 

I am especially grateful for the many helpful suggestions by 
Dr. Clyde Kluckhohn of Harvard and for the encouraging in- 
terest shown by Mr. Van Wyck Brooks. 

I also wish to express my gratitude toward Mr. Witter Bynner, 
who kindly read the entire manuscript. I am furthermore in- 
debted to Dr. Robert Lowie of Berkeley University, to Professor 
Wolfgang Koehler of Swanhmore College, to Dr. Ruth Under- 
bill and Mr. Maurice Ries, Laboratory of Anthropology, for 
stimulating criticisms and suggestions of various kinds. 

Assistance in the preparation of the manuscript has been ren- 
dered in various ways by Mrs. Helen Chase, Mrs. Mary von 
Kramer, Mrs. Margaretta Dietrich, Miss Hester Jones, Mr. Wil- 
lard Houghland, Miss Dorothy Stewart, Miss C, F. Bieber, and 
Mrs, Eric J. Reed. My grateful thanks are due to each of them. 

Last, but most certainly not least, I wish to express my grati- 
tude toward the various authors, publishers, and executors who 
mast generously granted me the permission for reprint. 

In New Mexico t ^$46 MARCOT ASTROV 


The Winged Serpent 


When Old Torlino, a Navajo priest of hoz.6niha.tdl, 
was about to relate the story of creation to Washington 
Matthews, he made the following pronouncement, ad- 
dressing as it were his own conscience, solemnly affirm- 
ing that he was going to tell the truth as he understood 
it. And he said: 

I am ashamed before the earth; 

I am ashamed before the heavens; 

I am ashamed before the dawn; 

I am ashamed before the evening twilight; 

I am ashamed before the blue sky; 

I am ashamed before the sun. 

/ am ashamed before that standing within me 

which speaks with me. 

Some of these things are always looking at me. 
I am never out of sight. 
Therefore I must tell the truth. 
/ hold my word tight to my breast. 

This declaration is nothing but a succinct statement 
of the Indian's relation to the "word" as the directing 
agency that stands powerfully behind every "doing," 
as the reality above all tangible reality. It is the thought 
and the word that stand face to face with the con- 
science of the native, not the deed. 

This anthology of American Indian prose and poetry 
is a collection made up of translations. With the abo- 
rigine's attitude toward the sacredness of the word in 
our mind, it seems fitting to consider, if only briefly, 
the problems that the translator confronts in transfer- 
ring native texts from languages, utterly differing, we 


are told, from all Indo-European idioms both in struc- 
ture and function, into our own language. If the 
native feels deeply responsible in using the word as a 
tool designed not only to perpetuate but also to actu- 
ate, to bring about change, and to create, the transla- 
tor, in trying to tackle his difficult task, must also be 
pervaded by a similar sense of responsibility and a 
compelling obligation toward truthfulness. He, too, 
must hold the word close to his breast. 

In going through a collection like this we will be 
struck not only by the marked differences in style, but 
also by the tremendous differences in mental attitudes 
expressed in these verbal documents. 

It is one of the purposes of the present compilation 
to bring home to the reader that the idea of "the" 
Indian is an abstraction, though a methodologically 
helpful one at times. There are Pueblenos and desert 
dwellers; Indians of the plains and the woodlands; 
tribes that obtain their livelihood on the lonely pla- 
teaus or in the mountainous areas west of the prairies. 
Each of these various tribes has acquired during long 
stretches of time its own peculiar way of expressing 
itself, a diversity due mainly to the formative influ- 
ences of three factors: individual disposition, group 
configuration, and natural environment. 

But we have to take into account still another factor 
that intensifies the individualizing aspect of the trans- 
lations. This is the personality of the translator. One 
might be inclined to consider the fact that he is likely 
to color somehow the oral expression of the native in 
a way that may seriously impair the authentic value 
of the document. This may or may not be the case. It 
quite depends on the qualityshall we say poetic qual- 



ity of the translator. For translation is, if not creative, 
then re-creative work. It is surely a high art. 

Wholly literal translations would do little justice to 
the original a mere cursory survey of interlinear ren- 
derings would make this plain even to the layman. A 
creative element has to enter into the process of trans 
muting an oral expression from the terms of one lan- 
guage into the terms of another. In some way or other 
the translator has to translate not only the actual 
words of a myth, a tale, or a song, but also the cultural 
matrix of which the verbal document to be translated 
is an organic part. If this is a prerequisite of all trans- 
lations, how then can it be reconciled with the other 
requirement: linguistic fidelity to the original sources? 
That both of these requirements can be met has been 
demonstrated by a considerable number of outstand- 
ing linguists and workers in the field by Washington 
Matthews, Gushing, Brinton, Frances Densmore, Sapir, 
Spindcn, Ruth Bunzcl, and Ruth Underbill, to name 
only a few. 

There is still another problem of which the reader 
of translations of primitive poetry should be aware. 
From translations we can draw little if any conclusions 
as to the style of a language, its structure, and its pecu- 
liar function. It may be for this very reason that a 
thorough study has not yet been attempted of cither 
aboriginal v^rsc or aboriginal prose. Says Herbert J. 

Style Is so intimately involved in the organic possibilities 
of a particular language that it cannot, properly speaking, 
be translated except in so far as it concerns the sequence 
and arrangements of materials. It can be matched in gen- 
eral effect, and that is about all. In translating poetry, then, 


the thought and the emotional environment of the thought, 
can be restated but not the poetic style per se.^ 

Ruth Underbill confirms the above statement when 
she says 

A translator of a language so different from ours in all 
its devices as is an Indian tongue has much to answer for. 
The entire way of thought is different. So are the grammat- 
ical forms and the order of words. One can hope to make 
the translation exact only in spirit, not in letter . . ." u 

But even so the translator will be capable of render- 
ing the spirit of a text exactly only when he is thor- 
oughly familiar with the culture to which the document 
belongs. Ruth Benedict has shown in her analyses of 
Zufii mythology how decidedly both the content and 
structure of a myth, song, or prayer are determined by 
the culture of which it is a part. 3 

But not only this. The very language that carries 
tale and song is influenced and formed by the atti- 
tudes, beliefs, and customs of a people. It must be kept 
in mind that language not only influences behavior, 
but also reflects customary responses and attitudes. To 
give a few examples: The Kwakiutl have two meta- 
phorical expressions for "marriage." One is "to make 
war on the princess" and the other, "to try to get a 
slave." These metaphors, though revealing in them- 
selves, would remain misty to one not acquainted with 
the cultural make-up of the Kwakiutl. The most out- 

1 Songs of the Tewa, 1933, p. 55. 

1 Singing for Power, 1938, p. 16. 

See also Stanley S. Newman on "Linguistic Aspects of Yokuu 
Style" in A. H. Gayton and W. Newman: Yakuts and Western 
Mono Myths, Anthropological Records, Un. of CaL, Vol. 5, No. 
i, p. 4-6. Berkeley: 1940. 



standing features of their social behavior are competi- 
tive aggressiveness and an inclination to consider all 
relations to human and nonhuman environment in 
terms of wealth and exclusive ownership. Their whole 
vocabulary seems to be flavored by this peculiar sys- 
tem of evaluation. 4 

Another example. In an interesting paper B. L. 
Whorf sets forth the results of an investigation he un- 
dertook concerning the relation of habitual thought 
and behavior to language on the part of the Hopi. 5 

A characteristic of Hopi behavior, says Whorf, is the 
emphasis on preparation. One has only to read care- 
fully the autobiography of Don Talaycsva as edited 
by Leo W. Simmons in order to find this statement 
amply verified. When Don finally came to the conclu- 
sion that the white man's ways of education were only 
leading him astray, making him helpless in the face of 
the difficulties he had to overcome in order to make 
a living in his own native environment, all his life 
turned into a carefully planned pattern of prepara- 
tion. His description of this period of his life is carried 
to a vast extent by words designating pursuits of prep- 
aration and concentration for the task ahead. One 
casual remark on Don's part is very revealing as to this 
attitude which is characteristic of most of the Pueblo 
people and, in fact, of many other culture groups of 
native North America. His statement, "I studied clouds 
and paid close attention to my dreams in order to 
escape being trapped by storms too far from shelter," 

* Franz Boas, Rant, language and Culture, New York: The 
Mactmllan Company, 19-10, p. 232. 

8 In Leslie Spier, ed., Language, Culture, and Personality, Es- 
says in Memory of Edward Sapir, Menasha, 1941, p. 75. 


not only discloses plainly this emphasis on prepara- 
tion, but also reveals another characteristic trait of 
Hopi culture: the overlapping of two systems of ex- 
perience which would seem to us to belong to two 
different planes. To the Hopi the phenomena of what 
we would call the objective side of the world are inti- 
mately interlocked with those of the subjective side o 
it. And not only do these two forms of experience 
with the Pueblo people sustain each other, but the 
"inner" world is apt to dominate over the "outer" 
world. And it is this peculiar outlook that has greatly 
influenced the language of the Hopi, especially the 
emphasis he places, as Whorf calls it, on the "intensi- 
ty-factor of thought." Here again, as among so many 
tribes, thought is believed to determine and to direct 
reality. By concentrating his thoughts on the corn 
plant, for instance, he feels he can influence its growth 
and maturation. His treasury of verbal expressions is 
therefore rich in words connoting invisible, intangible, 
fluctuating factors. Even events and phenomena of the 
objective world are described in terms of germinating 
processes, of growth, of unfolding or of vanishing, or 
as mere outlines, as fleeting colors or as hardly percep- 
tible movements. 

Even the layman, therefore, can easily grasp the diffi- 
culties with which a translator has to wrestle in trying 
to transmute a verbal document of such a people into 
a language the very structure of whic h, as well as its 
function, is determined to a considerable extent by an, 
attitude quite different from that of the native people. 
Take, for instance, the Zuni. Living in a semi-arid 
region, their minds dwell upon rain with greatest in- 
tensity, and their hearts are made happy by the sight 


of wandering clouds, the sound of clapping thunder, 
the flash of lightning zigzagging across the parched 
fields. Their prayers for life are prayers for rain. And 
as it is a law pertaining to all magical practices that 
the more satisfying the description of the desired ob- 
ject, the more satisfying the outcome, one would nat- 
urally expect in the vocabulary of a desert-dwelling 
people delicate nuances concerning climatological fac- 
tors and atmospheric changes. Thus all of the Pueblo 
people discriminate between various forms of rain: 
fine and heavy, female and male, misty and torrential. 
Zufii, we are informed by Ruth Bunzel, is, like Latin, 
a highly inflected language and therefore very sensitive 
to skillful handling. It is a poetic language per se. 
While, according to Dr. Bunzel, many characteristic 
traits of Zuni poetical style get lost in the process of 
translation, its vigor and responsiveness to most subtle 
shades have certainly been preserved in her outstand- 
ing translations from the Zufii language. One prayer 
may follow as an example a magic formula rather, 
recited for the purpose of bringing rain, the greatest 
good in the desert: 

When our earth mother is replete with living waters, 

When spring comes, 

The source of our flesh, 

All the different kinds of corn, 

We shall lay to rest in the ground. 

With their earth mother's living waters, 

They will be made into new Beings. 

Coining out standing into the daylight 

Of their sun father, 

Culling for ruin, 

To all skies they will stretch out their hands. 

Then from wherever the rain makers stay quietly 



They will send forth their misty breath; 

Their massed clouds filled with water will come out 

and sit with us, 
Far from their homes, 
With outstretched hands of water they will embrace 

the corn, 

Stepping down to caress them with their fresh waters, 
With their fine rain caressing the earth, 
And yonder, wherever the roads of the rain makers 

come forth, 

Torrents will rush forth, 
Silt will rush forth, 
Mountains will be washed out, 
Logs will be washed down, 

Yonder all the mossy mountains will drip with water. 
The clay-lined hollows of our earth mother 
Will overflow with water, 
Desiring that it should be thus, 
I send forth my prayer.** 

Indian poets of many tribes have been aware o the 
hypnotic quality of carefully selected words, and they 
have used it quite consciously. The sleep-inducing for- 
mulae Robert H. Lowic recorded in connection with 
tales he gathered among tins Grow and Hidatsa are 
interesting and worth being quoted here. The formulae 
preluded or followed by suggestive statements indi- 
cating the fatigue of a person consist of vivid descrip- 
tions of sensual impressions of a visual, auditory, and 
even kincsthetic order: the rustling of leaves, the mo- 
notonous patter of rain striking against the tepee, the 
booming of high winds, the rippling of a brook, the 
soothing coolness of shade. These sleep-evoking de- 
scriptions, made up usually by the storyteller on the 

Ruth Bunzcl, Introduction to Zuni Ceremonialijtm^ 47th An- 
nual Report oE the Bureau o American Ethnology, 


spur of the moment, have retained the quality of light 
opiates even in the translations rendered by Lowie: 

At night when we arc about to lie down, listening to the 
wind rustling through the bleached trees, we do not know 
how we get to sleep, but we fall asleep. 

When the day is cloudy, the thunder makes a low rumble 
and the rain patters against the lodge, then it's fine and 
nice to sleep, isn't it? 

And from a Hidatsa version: 

You hear the wind blowing, blowing, then all of a sud- 
den it dies down just as if it had gone off to sleep. 

Little playful lullabies they are, these sleep-inducing 
spells, designed after a pattern a psychotherapist of 
our days would heartily recommend. 

I have said that from translations one cannot per- 
ceive the particular style of a language. This statement, 
however, ought to be modified, since the ever-recurring 
patterns of stylistic expression may be recognized even 
from translations. Herbert J. Spinden summarized the 
essential characteristics of Indian poetry in the follow- 
ing way: 7 

The device of rhyme seems not to have been used by the 
most cultivated Americans of pre-Columbian times . . . Nor 
were there any certain stanza forms except such as were 
brought about by the repetition of phrases. The outstand- 
ing feature of American Indian verse construction comes 
from, parallel phrasing, or, let us say, repetition with an 
increment, which gives an effect not of rhyming sounds but 
of rhyming thoughts. Sometimes the ceremonial pattern de- 
mands a repetition for each world direction with formal 

''Songs of the Tewa, 1933, p. 58. 


changes involving the color, plant, animal, and so forth, 
associated with each station on the circuit. 

Rhythm is the repetition of units that are either simi- 
lar or contrasting. It is said that the pleasure derived 
from rhythm has, in all probability, a physiological 
basis and that it corresponds to certain physiological 
processes, as for instance the contraction and expansion 
of the respiratory organs, the pulsating of the blood, 
the beating of the heart. But this drive that forces man 
to express himself in rhythmic patterns has its ultimate 
source in psychic needs, for example the need of spir- 
itual ingcstion and proper organization of all the 
multiform perceptions and impressions rushing for 
ever upon the individual from without and within, 
especially during his formative years. Among the In- 
dians, this necessity of organization has found con- 
spicuous expression not only in the arts of poetry and 
prose in the form of various types of repetition, but 
likewise in the decorative arts of pottery, basketry, and 
textile designs. Furthermore, repetition, verbal and 
otherwise, means accumulation of power. In fact, the 
magically coercive quality that seems to determine the 
character of most of the prayers, incantations, and 
songs of the American Indian, is so conspicuous that 
the other driving force which leads to the iteration of 
statements the need of organization is frequently 
overlooked. A child repeats a statement over and over 
for two reasons. First, in order to make himself familiar 
with something that appears to him to be threaten- 
ingly unknown and thus to organize it into his system 
of familiar phenomena; and, second, to get something 
he wants badly. As the various devices of repetition 


preludes, refrains, burdens, iteration of phrases in part 
or in whole are readily translatable in every language, 
we are well familiar with it. 

The principle o organization seems to dominate the 
poetical construction of most of the ceremonial songs 
of the Apache; the magically creative quality seems to 
determine more conspicuously the forms of repetition 
employed by the Navajos. An example of the latter 
follows: a corn song supposedly sung by the Home 
God, who was the first to plant corn. And it is again 
Washington Matthews who provides us with the trans- 
lation, preserving the native quality of the song and 
yet at the same time making it part of our own poeti- 
cal treasury: 8 

The corn grows up. 

The waters of the dark clouds drop, drop. 

The rain descends. 

The waters from the corn leaves drop, drop. 

The rain descends. 

The waters from the plants drop, drop. 

The corn grows up. 

The waters o the dark mists drop, drop. 

The coercive character of this song seems irresistible 
indeed, and it is cleverly enhanced by the skillful use 
of sounds characteristic of rain. 

This gift of employing deftly the various sounds 
produced by surrounding nature by animal, water, 
wind, storm-lorn woods is characteristic of Indian 
poets of many tribes. We find it among the people in- 
habiting the southwestern deserts, among the dwellers 
of the Pueblos, and among the tribes of the Northwest. 

"Songs of Sequence," in Journal of American Folk Lore, 
VII, x0i. 


Francis LaFlesche, a Plains Indian, trained anthropol- 
ogist and understanding recorder of customs and tra- 
ditions not only of his own tribe, the Omaha, but also 
of the related Osage, has placed us under obligation 
by his outstanding translations of native records. All 
of them seem to be alive and to be carried by the 
sounds and echoes of nature, by the swirling winds o 
the plains, by the whisper arising out of shadowed 
groves in the hour before dawn and the twitter of 
sleepy birds in the twilight o evening. 

An appealing symmetry and rhythm, however, is 
achieved by the native poet not only onomatopoetically, 
but also through the use of contrast; for instance, 
night and day, silence and sound, male and female, 
immobility and swift movement. In one of the cere- 
monial Rattle LSongs of the Osagc, the Black Hawk 
and the Red Hawk are placed in two opposed verses, 
forming a balanced pattern in which the native de- 
lights. The Black Hawk represents the night and is 
spoken of first, for, says LaFlcschc, "out of the darkness 
of the night proceed the mysteries of life." The Red 
Hawk typifies the glowing color of the dawning 1 day, 
and the various stanzas of this song vivify in inter- 
locking patterns of repetition and parallel phrasing 
the endless recurrent movement of the coming and 
going of day and night. 

The methods of balance, parallel phrasing, and in- 
cremental repetition arc also employed in many of the 
prose compositions of too American Indian. In the 
recital of mythical stories repetitions are utilized for 
magical and organizatory purposes. In the art of ora- 
tory they are employed, apparently, mainly for the 
sake of emphasis. How subtly this device may be used 


even for spontaneously delivered speeches shows in the 
following fragment of an oration by a warrior about 
to enter the Warpath with the express desire of dying 
on his mission. This speech, recorded by R. H. Lowie 
among the Crow, may also stand as an example of the 
high art of translating. Crazy-Dog- Wishing-To-Die con- 
cludes his speech in this way: 

You Above, if there be one who knows what is going on, 
repay me today for the distress I have suffered. The One 
Who causes things, Whoever he may be, I have now had nay 
fill of life. Grant me death. My sorrows are overabundant. 
Though children are timid, they die harsh deaths, it is said. 
Though women are timid, you make them die harsh deaths. 
I do not wish to live long; were I to live long, my sorrows 
would be overabundant; I do not want it. 

In reviewing the literary creations of the American 
Indian from the standpoint of the recorder and trans- 
lator, we ought to draw the reader's attention to an- 
other group of poetical compositions in which the 
usual devices of repetition, parallel phrasing, meta- 
phorical expression, and imaginative comparison are 
not employed at all. These songs are, rather, conspicu- 
ous for their extreme conciseness both in thought and 
word. Few of these short songs are complete in them- 
selves and may be regarded as mnemonic summaries 
of trains of thought familiar both to the singer and to 
the listeners, or as the highlights of myths and rituals. 
The Papago informant of Ruth Underhill succinctly 
summarized the main characteristic of these mere wisps 
of songs by saying: "The song is so short because we 
know so much." The singer sketches only a thought 
or an impression and it is left to the poetical imagina- 
tion of the listener and his resources of mythic knowl- 



edge to supply the gradations of color and mythical 
context. As an example two Papago songs recorded by 
Dr. Underbill follow, both superb in their poetical 
abstraction and both masterpieces of translation. 

The Eagle sings: 

i. The sun's rays 

Lie along my wings 

And stretch beyond their tips. 
jj. A gray little whirlwind 

Is trying to catch me. 

Across my path 

It keeps whirling. 

These are exquisite and friendly vignettes, indeed, 
remindful of the best of Japanese Haiku that turn the 
listener into a poet himself, for it is his part to fill the 
sketch into completeness. These songs, says Underbill, 
will make the Papago visualize the eagle with all his 
peculiarities. Thus his power is asserted, and, being 
what he is, the superior o man, he will cleanse man 
from impurities, free him from disease, and ward oft 
death. This is what a song may bring about. 

How fortunate the method may be of having abo- 
riginal texts not only recorded but also translated by 
gifted and trained natives themselves a procedure rec- 
emended repeatedly and most emphatically by Fram 
Boas is demonstrated by a number of aboriginal an- 
thropologists, for instance by the already mentioned 
Francis LaFlcschc, by Archie Phinney (Nez Pcrce"), and 
Ella Delona (Dakota), to name just a few. The transla- 
tions of Rasmusscn are marked by an unmistakable 
quality of authenticity because he lived the life of the 
Eskimo and their language was his language, while 


Thalbitzer used the idiom of the Amassalik Eskimo as 
his second tongue. The method suggested and em- 
ployed by Frances Densmore, to let carefully selected 
interpreters do the translation, seems also to be a most 
fortunate one, as the vast collections of American In- 
dian poetry of F. Densmore herself well prove. 

In any case, in reading aboriginal prose and poetry, 
as it is compiled in this anthology, the reader is at the 
mercy of the translator, not only for bad but also for 
good. If the following pages, besides presenting the 
American Indian as an outstanding poet, as a singer 
of exquisite songs, maker of sublime prayers or dan- 
gerous spells, and judicious teller of tales and mythic 
stories, present also the recorder and translator as con- 
genial collaborators, this collection has fulfilled its 

Chapter I: The Power of the Word 


The singing of songs and the telling of tales, with 
the American Indian, is but seldom a means of mere 
spontaneous self-expression. More often than not, the 
singer aims with the chanted word to exert a strong 
influence and to bring about a change, either in him- 
self or in nature or in his fellow beings. By narrating 
the story of origin, he endeavors to influence the uni- 
verse and to strengthen the failing power of the super- 
natural beings. He relates the myth of creation, cere- 
monially, in order to save the world from death and 
destruction and to keep alive the primeval spirit of the 
sacred beginning. Above all, it seems that the word, 
both in song and in tale, was meant to maintain and 
to prolong the individual life in some way or other 
that is, to cure, to heal, to ward off evil, and to frus- 
trate death. Healing songs, and songs intended to sup 
port the powers of germination and of growth in all 
their manifestations, fairly outnumber all other songs 
of the American Indian. 

The word, indeed, is power. It is life, substance, 
reality. The word lived before earth, sun, or moon 
came into 'existence. Whenever the Indian ponders 
over the mystery of origin, he shows a tendency to 
ascribe to the word a creative power all its own. The 
word is conceived of as an independent entity, superior 



even to the gods. Only when the word came up mys- 
teriously in the darkness of the night were the gods 
of the Maya enabled to bring forth the earth and life 
thereon. And the genesis of the Uitoto opens, charac- 
teristically enough, in this way: "In the beginning, the 
word gave origin to the Father." The word is thought 
to precede the creator, for the primitive mind cannot 
imagine a creation out of nothingness. In the begin- 
ning was the thought, the dream, the word. 

The concept of the word as Creative Potency lives 
on, even in the simplest song of hunting or of harvest, 
of battle, love, or death, as sung by the contemporary 

It is this conscious certainty of the directing and 
influencing power of the word that gives a peculiar 
urging force to the following war song as heard by 
Robert H. Lowie among the Crow Indians: 1 

Whenever there is any trouble, 
1 shall not die but get through. 
Though arrows are many, I shall arrive. 
My heart is manly. 

By chanting these words the singer raises himself to 
a higher level of achieving power; it is the magic qual- 
ity of these words that will render him invulnerable. 

It is not the herb administered to the sick which is 
considered the essential part of the cure, rather the 
words recited over that herb before its use. When a 
Hupa Indian is sick, the priest recites over him tho 
account of a former cure whose central incident is the 
travel of some mythical person to the ends of the 

*R. H. I-owi<*, Crow Religion, Anlkropalogiral Paprnt of the 
American Museum of Natural Itistury, XXV (igax), 440. 


world to find release from his ailment. It is sufficient, 
says Goddard in his fine book on the Hupa, that the 
priest tell how one went: the spirit of the suffering 
person will follow the words even if he does not com- 
prehend them. 

A considerable number of songs of the Indian can 
be understood only from this firm belief in the word's 
power to bring about the desired result upon which 
the singer has fixed his mind. 2 

The word not only engenders courage and power of 
endurance, but it also is the ultimate source of mate- 
rial success. "I have always been a poor man. I do not 
know a single song," thus the Navajo informant of 
W. W. Hill began his account of agricultural prac- 

It is impossible [continues Dr. Hill] to state too strongly 
the belief as illustrated by that statement. It summed up in 
a few words the whole attitude of the Navaho toward life 
and the possibility of success. With respect to agriculture, it 
was not the vicissitudes of environment that made for suc- 
cessful crops or failures, but the control of the natural forces 
through ritual. 8 

And, quite logically, the Eskimo hunters think it a 
mistake to believe that women are weaker than men. 
For were it not for the incantations sung by the women 
left behind, the hunter would return without game. 
Said one hunter to Bogoras: "In vain man walks 

Of course, it should be kept in mind that the tune which 
carries the word is o equal importance and may emanate as 
much magical power. Poetry, with the American Indian, is not 
an independent art but exists only in connection with music 
that is, as song. 

W. W. Hill, The Agricultural and Hunting Methods of the 
Navaho Indians, Yale University Press, 1958, p. 53. 



around, searching; but those that sit by the lamp are 
really strong, for they know how to call the game to 
the shore. . . ." 


The poetic imagination of primitive man circled, 
naturally, with greatest persistency around the mys- 
tery of life and death. Physical sickness was experienced 
as partial death. When a medicine man committed 
himself to a cure, he was conscious of lighting a battle 
against death, already present in the suffering indi- 

His strongest weapon in this fight was the word. 

Thus, the chief aim of the Midv the native religion 
of the Chippewa was to secure health and long life 
to its adherents, and elaborate initiations and song 
series were held during spring, and each member was 
expected to attend at least one of these gatherings for 
the renewal o his spiritual power. 

Each initiate (Middwinmi) had his own set of songs, 
some of which he had composed himself and others 
which he had purchased for cx>nsiderablc sums of 
money or for equal values of goods. 

The initiates, we arc told, have to go through eight 
degrees, which means through a succession of sym- 
bolic deaths and resurrections. The following song is 
a song a neophyte receives while he is passing through 
such a painful experience of ceremonial dying: 4 

* Frances Densmore, Chippcwa Music, I, Uurcau of American 
Ethnology, Bulletin 45, p. 73. 



You will recover; you will walk again. 
It is I who say it; my power is great. 
Through our white shell 
I will enable you to walk again. 

And as the initiate revived, the words of this song 
will forever retain its healing power: it is the healing 
song par excellence. Songs with similar words of gen- 
tle coercion and firm confidence were chanted all over 
the continent accompanied by the compulsive beat 
of the drum. The word heals and restores I 

That the curing song may be considered to exert a 
twofold function we learn from Leslie Spier. The 
Maricopa shaman who is about to practice a cure sings 
his songs, which he has received in dreams, in the first 
place in order to gain strength himself. The cure itself 
is secondary and additional. It further seems as though 
healing power was believed a quality inherent in all 
song, the inseparable essence of melody and word. 

In describing dreams to me [says Dr. Spier] the song was 
always mentioned first, as though that was the most signifi- 
cant element. The curative powers which the dreamer ac- 
quired . . . were sometimes mentioned as adjunct to song. 

Which only proves again that song, at least with the 
American Indian, hardly exists as a pure art form: it 
always serves an end. 6 

The Navajo shepherds of the Arizona deserts are 

D Among the Fox we find the same attitude toward song as a 
life-preserving means. Said Owl: "Well, now I shall tell you 
about this which we sing. As we sing the manitou hears us. The 
manitou will not fail to hear us. It is just as if -we were singing 
within the manitou's dwellings. . . . We are not singing sportive 
songs. It is as if we are weeping, asking for life. . . ." Mickelson, 
The Owl Sacred Pack of the Fox Indians, p. 57. 


beset to a large degree by the fear of the all-pervading 
powers o evil and deulh. In this the Navujo, together 
with the neighboring Apaches, distinguish themselves 
from most of the other tribes of the American South- 
west. Yet these Bedouins of North America are re- 
markable psychiatrists. All of their ceremonies are pro- 
phylactic or therapeutic means to free themselves from 
the nightmare of dread and inward panic. They are 
harassed by innumerable fears. Nevertheless, they are 
placid and gay and gracefully poised people; for they 
have instituted a cure for every threatening or real 
disturbance of their mental equilibrium a cure against 
the poisonous breath of evil thought; a cure against 
bad dreams; a cure against every kind of physical ail- 
ment; and numerous cures against the impurity o 

But the evils that arc feared most of all arc the 
intangible powers that lurk in the soul of man himself. 
It is the unknown error and the undiagnosed dread 
that arc really dangerous. But even for this grave in* 
tcrnal ailment the Navajo inaugurated a healing 
ceremony, the evil-chasing chant. This ritual, with its 
sand paintings, chants, and magic paraphernalia Is 
supposed to absorb the concealed and hidden evil. 
And, as evil is due to ignorance, a person can bo cured 
by being told the origin of evil, which is the purpose 
of the Ceremony of the Enemy Way as recorded by 
Father Berard Hailc. And not only will the patient 
be cured by way of knowledge, he also will have gained 
power; for, through ritual and song, evil has turned 
into good a psychiatric method of transmutation, re- 
miniscent of alchcmistic processes, indeed. 

Above all, however, it is the spirit <> creation that 


heals. With the aid of his song, the Navajo medicine 
man submerges the sick or frightened person in the 
beauty and perfection of primeval creation. With com- 
pelling repetitions he sings of the earth and the stars 
and the growing corn, as they were in the days of or- 
igin. Thus the suffering person is placed within the 
purity of the beginning of all things, when man knew 
neither sin nor fear and the horror of death. It is of 
psychological significance that in the Creation Myth, 
as recorded by Mary C. Wheelwright, fear of death or 
dying is not mentioned. Rather, the patient (hatrali 
that is, the man who is "sung over") is made to accept 
the idea of death, for according to the myth Sun and 
Moon could not go on living unless every day and 
every night a person should die. 6 

Or, by way of the magic word, the medicine man is 
relating the sick person to the companion of the never- 
ailing gods, who are traveling across the Rainbow from 
the Mountain of Everlastingness to the Mountain of 
Unending Happiness. He is made to breathe in the 
purifying air of sacred places where only gods are wont 
to -abide. And out of the agony of fear and pain he 
awakes renewed, suffused with divinity and strength- 
ened by the dream-experienced reality of life eternal. 

The long song sequences of the curing ceremonies 
of the Navajo are sacred, and bear the patina of an- 
tiquity and the mark of the inward experiences of 
generations: no word may be altered nor omitted, no 
gesture of dance and ceremony may be changed. 

However, it should be added that the Navajo dis- 
criminate between songs that must be sung precisely, 

See also Washington Matthews, Navajo Legends, Houghton 
Mifflin, 1897, pp. 80, 223. 


with no alterations whatsoever, and the sequence of 
whole ceremonies. No singer, says Clyde Kluckhohn 
in his indispensable Introduction to Navajo Chant 
Practice, ever gives two performances of the same 
chant without some variations: "absolutely precise 10- 
pctition of any ceremonial behavior is dangerous to 
the performer." An excellent observation from a psy- 
choihcrapeutic point of view. 


Still, there exists another group of songs that may 
well be noted here, songs born out of the moment of 
lonely suffering, songs composed by individuals in the 
subconscious endeavor to soothe the anguished heart 
by transporting the inward pain into the reality of 

It is only crying about myself 

That comes to me in song. 

Thus sings an unknown poet high up on the mist- 
enshrouded coast of the Pacific. 

Frances Densmore tells of an old and blind woman 
who lived among the Nootka of the Northwest Coast. 
This woman was very poor and homeless and drifted 
from family to family. She used to sit against the wall 
of some house all day, singing softly a song like this: 

Sing your song 
Looking xip at the sky. 

And the people were always glad to have her near 
and to give her a meal, for she spread happiness wher- 
ever she went. 


The same author collected among the Chippewa a 
wee little song, once composed by a child left alone in 
the wigwam during a long, long night. Now, the great 
fear of Chippewa children is the owl. And to drive 
away the gnawing dread of the owl's hooting, the child 
channeled his terror into the words of a song that he 
repeated over and over again. This is the literal trans- 

Very much also 

I of the owl am afraid, 

Sitting alone in the wigwam. 

The people in near-by tents heard him singing all 
through the night, and they learned the song and it 
became quite popular in the village. 

Among the Mandan a number of songs have been 
recorded which did not serve any magical purpose, 
but were merely the expression of individual longing 
and loneliness. Thus the work of the scout was often 
wearisome, and during the long hours of vigil, far 
away from camp, homesickness sometimes threatened 
to overcome him. Then the few words of a song, com- 
posed there and then, might endow the scenes of camp 
life with a sense of greater reality and so create the 
illusion of the longed-for social contact. Sings a scout: 

A certain maiden 
To the garden goes, 
She walks. 

At the same time a Mandan woman, whose task it is 
to watch over the maturing crops, might also be over- 
whelmed with loneliness and sorrow and sing a song 
like this: 



The man who was my lover 

He is dead. 

I am lonely. 

If I could go to him 

I would go 

No matter how far away. 

Though no magical healing power is believed to be 
inherent in this type of song, these words will have 
exerted a healing effect nonetheless, for the "word" as 
such heals and restores. 


Sometimes the song is not thought of as the starting 
point of the cure itself, but as a means to induce utter 
concentration, indispensable for the sincere medicine 
man in order that he may find out the source of some 
mental disturbance or physical sickness of some patient. 

Knud Rasmuvssen tells of such an experience ho had 
among the Iglulik Eskimo. He was enjoying the hos- 
pitality of Padloq, the angakaq, and his friendly wife 
Taqonak. He had arrived at a time when the aging 
couple were greatly troubled about the failing health 
of the child they had adopted. Rasmus sen relates: 

One evening Padloq . . . had been particularly occupied 
in studying the fate of the child. We were lying on the 
bench, enjoying our evening rest, but Padlocj stood upright, 
with closed eyes, over by the window of the hut. lie stood 
like that for hours, chanting a magic song with many in- 
comprehensible words. But the constant repetition, and the 
timid earnestness of his utterance made the song as it were 
an expression of the frailty of human life and man's help, 
lessness in the face of its mystery. Then, suddenly, after 


hours of this searching in the depths of the spirit, he seemed 
to have found what he sought; for he clapped his hands 
together and blew upon them, washing them as it were, in 
fresh human breath, and cried out: "Here it isl Here it is." 

We gave the customary response: "Thanks, thanks. You 
have it." 

Padloq now came over to us and explained that Qahitsap 
had been out in the previous summer in a boat, the sail 
of which had belonged to a man now dead. A breeze from 
the land of the dead had touched the child, and now came 
the sickness. . . . 

While the Navajo lead their suffering fellow men 
back to the days of creation in order to cure them, the 
Eskimo deem it best to sing healing songs that con- 
vey joy. For the helping spirits, they say, avoid con- 
tact with human beings who dwell too long on sorrow, 
and evil prevails where laughter is unknown. 

Thus Rasmussen tells further of a women shaman 
who once received, quite unexpectedly, a song from 
her helping spirit. These are the words of the song: 

The great sea 

Has sent me adrift, 

It moves me as the weed in a great river, 

Earth and the great weather move me, 

Have carried me away, 

And move my inward parts with joy. 

These two verses, says Rasmussen, she was repeating 
incessantly during a gathering in the large snowhouse 
"intoxicated with joy"; and all in the house felt the 
same intoxication of delight. And without being asked 
they began to state "all their misdeeds, as well as those 
of others, and those who felt themselves accused and 
admitted their offenses obtained release from these by 
lifting their arms and making movements as if to fling 



away all evil, all that was false and wicked was thrown 
away. ..." 

The entrancing repetitions of a song of joy led vol- 
untarily to a catharsis and purification of the soul. 

Indeed, fixed anger and stable resentment that find 
no egress whatsoever are capable of eating up a man's 
soul, step by step, very slowly and painfully. 

The same Jglulik Eskimo devised a most congenial 
method of giving poisonous grudges a ventthe con- 
test or juridical drum song. 

In these duels of abuse the singer endeavors to pre- 
sent his enemy in a ridiculous light, making him the 
laughing stock of the assembled community. No mercy 
must be shown. Sneers hiss like sharp arrows to and 
fro. Weaknesses and faults and lies are uncovered with 
wit and edged laughter. But behind all such eastiga- 
tion, says Kmul Riismusscn, there must be a, touch of 
humor, for mere abuse in itself is barren and cannot 
bring about any reconciliation. It is k'gitimatx; to be 
nasty, but one must be amusing at the same time in 
order to make the audience laugh. For laughter cures. 

Thalbitzer reports a similar custom as practiced 
among the Greenland Eskimo: the opponents give 
vent to their anger in a most poetical form, drumming 
and singing against each other until all anger is eva- 
porated and peace has been established among the 

Thus the contest songs o the Eskimo (and one finds 
the same custom among African tribes) may woll be , 
classified under the Songs of Healing, for they heal 
a soul stifled with hidden unger and poisoned by bane- 
ful repression. By giving an outlet to pent-up aggros- 



sion and animosity, the twisted mind is straightened 
out, cleansed and renewed. 

As a means of keeping up the sound equilibrium 
both of individual and of group, the art of poetry 
stands foremost among the natives o the Americas. 
Nothing worse, in fact, can be laid upon the heart of 
the Eskimo than the consciousness of being denied the 
gift of singing. Among the Amassalik Eskimo a tra- 
dition is handed down of a woman who went through 
life without ever having been able to sing a song. A 
most lamentable fatel After her death, anangaqok had 
to undertake one of his professional journeys to the 
spirit land. Having arrived there, he met the woman 
just happily singing a song. Down he rushed to tell 
the mourning husband about the fortunate transfor- 
mation. He indeed could receive no better news; with 
beaming eyes, he sprang up and whirled around in 
jubilation. Death, then, was not so bad after all when 
it could transform a most unfortunate person into a 
perfectly happy one! 


In a way, the songs of growth and germination may 
also be grouped in the class of healing songs. It is with 
these songs of growing and maturing that the Indian 
reveals most conspicuously his innermost being his 
integral relationship to the forces of nature and the 

The Indian of the Southwest, for instance, after 
having planted the seeds of his corn, sings softly at 
eventide the ancient tunes, while he is pounding the 

3 1 


earth with his feet and the drum is throbbing in the 
rhythm of his blood and of all things growing per- 
haps a song as recorded by Ruth Underbill among the 
Papago Indians o Arizona: 

Blue evening falls, 

Blue evening falls, 

Near by, in, every direction. 

It sets the corn tassels trembling. 

The Indian becomes part of the creative divinity that 
lives in all things germinating and unfolding. Streams 
of renewal welling up from the powers below, pour- 
ing down from the powers above are Hooding his be- 
ing and are doubled in strength within himself, and 
he returns it in chanted word and gesture of solemn 
summoning. The Indian thus experiences himself as 
an active part of the creative processes of the earth, 
which are forever progressing and retarding, swelling 
and subsiding, in the gigantic rhythm of the cosmos. 

While the Indian, during the times of general matur- 
ing, abandons his personality and flings all of his spir- 
itual power into the caldron of renewal, he himself 
will be renewed. While he joins the supernatural forces 
in the annually recurring process of creation, he him- 
self will be recreated and made over from the bottom 
of his being. The words that arc believed to promote 
fertility, fructify not only the soil that, has received the 
seed of the corn, but also the soil of his soul. 

To have once witnessed a religious ceremonyfor 
instance, the Corn Dance as performed so superbly 
by the Santo Domingo Indians of New Mexico helps 
one to understand better than anything else the In- 
dians relation to the word as the powerful agency that 



brings about what he desires most that is, germina- 
tion, growth, fertility. 

Though with some Indian tribes, as we have seen, 
song was not quite unknown as a means of spontane- 
ous self-expression and was not infrequently composed 
on the spur of the moment, on the whole the song of 
the American Indian can fully be understood only in 
its functional setting, as a product and tool of the 
group and deep-rooted tradition. Only if it is heard as 
part of a ceremony, be it one of purification, curing, 
or initiation, does one become quite aware of the in- 
tensely pragmatic function of all song. And even 
though one may not understand the language proper, 
it is possible to feel the meaning of a song if heard as 
part of its spiritual matrix, against the background of 
native culture and native landscape. 

It was a hot day in August. The highway leading to 
the pueblo was an avenue flanked by tall sunflowers 
and beyond this brilliant hedge of ever so many sun- 
disks the desert stretched, dotted with sagebrush, to 
the purple ranges of distant mountains, slope after 
slope, until they were lost in the haze of the heat- 
misted skies. 

When we arrived, the Saint had already been carried 
to his bower of evergreen branches, and women had 
placed their offerings of bread and fruit before the 
image. A group of Koshairi were just emerging from 
the Turquoise Kiva, and die dancers were moving 
from the cottonwoods, near the church, toward the 
sun-parched plaza. 

A drum was sounding as it seemed from nowhere. 
Rattles were rapping, feet were pounding, voices united 



in a chant. The second part of the dance had begun. 
One's own soul scorned to respond almost immediately 
to the sudden up-surgc of powers which live in every- 
one, powers that arc only the condensed expression of 
man's yearning for growth and the gentle unfolding 
of that which is hidden and yet brimful with life. 
One's very being seemed to be woven instantly into 
the rich pattern of drumbeat, song, rattle chime, thud- 
ding of moccasined feet and the indescribably deli- 
cate gestures of mute prayer. 

Behind the men, the women moved. The men- 
urgent, powerful, insistent. The women rapt, self- 
abandoned, and yet exquisitely self-restrained. On 
their heads the women wore the green tablitas, carved 
prayers for clouds and rain. The black ceremonial 
garment contrasted strikingly with the brown skin 
of bare shoulders and bare arms; into their red sashes 
twigs of spruce were tucked, and they held a bunch 
of spruce in each hand, moving them up and down 
in the rhythm of the dance. The sky was blue and the 
sand of the plaza red hot. The women danced bare- 
foot. They followed the men, who, like the women, 
had their hair flowing. But tluiy had fastened in it 
feathers of the parrot, for men, it is said, arc closer 
to the powers above. The men did not dance bare- 
foot. Their feet were securely moccasined, their ankles 
edged with fur of the skunk; and while they pranced, 
tine fox pelt, fastened at the back of their white Hopi 
kilt, dangled and whipped and wagged, touching at 
times the women. With the right hand they shook the 
blackened gourd rattle, and in the left they carried 
the symbol of life, the spruce. Spruce everywhere it 
sprouted out of their belts, their bracelets, out of the 



vividly colored worsted garters and the strings of hoof- 
rattles and bells beneath their knees. On the bare 
breast some wore an abalone shell, some a few strings 
of turquoise, and others only a single arrowpoint. 

And in and out, through the varying formations of 
the dance, the Koshcdri moved, the spirits of the dead, 
controlling and blessing the ways of the living, ex- 
pressing to perfection the essence of all Pueblo reli- 
gion: the creative coalition between the intangible 
realities of what we call the Other World and the 
palpable phenomena of the Here and Now. With the 
Pueblenos there is no gap between these two systems 
of experience. The dead dance with the living. It seems 
to be difficult, however, to make sure whether the 
Koshairi are believed really to represent the spirits of 
the dead or whether they are only related to them in 
some mysterious way, and therefore merely assist the 
s/zza/awm" that is, the cloud-beingsin their attempts 
at fertilizing the earth. However, their make-up indi- 
cated clearly their close association with death. Their 
bodies were painted a grayish white, the color of decay 
and decomposition. Black stripes here and there across 
the chest and around the eyes intensified the impres- 
sion that we were watching beings which had just 
emerged from the underworld. Their hair, plastered 
with clay, was done up in two horns of cornhusk, 
which also stand for death. 

I did not notice any clowning. 7 Serenely they danced 

"The spirits of the dead, while they join the living during 
certain ceremonies in the pueblos, have to fulfill various func- 
tions. They are supposed to promote not only general fertility 
and to bless the maturing crops, but also to punish certain indi- 
viduals by ridiculing them. "Clownish" actions, seemingly amus- 
ing, have quite frequently an "educational" purpose. 



their individual patterns, individual yet in perfect 
rhythm with the group of the living. Exquisite were 
their gentle gestures of blessing, graceful their panto- 
mimes of coercive summoning. 

And ever in response to drumbeat and song the 
intensity of the dance was swelling with soft msistexice 
and subsiding again like the tides of the sea. 

We had climbed meantime to the roof of a two- 
storied house where we could look down upon the 
long lines of the dancers as well as upon the chorus of 
old men. This change of position threw into high re- 
lief the fact that the directing power of the ceremony 
was actually radiated from this group of singing men: 
it was the chanted word that ensouled the dunce and 
integrated its various patterns, both the unfettered 
moves of the "dead" and the rigidly prescribed steps 
of the "living," into the perfection of a highly elabo- 
rated work of art. 

There was no difficulty in*undcrstanding the mean- 
ingof the song as sung by these old men. Out of the 
depths of their souls they called for growth and abun- 
dance. And their song was a prayer, a danced prayer, 
as it were; for while they sang they performed a sort 
of posture dance. Like a flower that unfolds and closes 
its petals, they raised their arms and turned their faces 
upward imploringly, only to withdraw again for short 
intervals into the sheltering circle of their ceremonial 
isolation, to gather new spiritual strength, it .seemed. 
The strength that emanated from the singing men hud 
an almost material quality. They radiated this power 
to the dancers, who translated it into step and gesture; 
thus they conveyed it more effectively to the outside 


powers which live under the skies and in the darkness 
of the earth. 

Here again the twofold function of all song became 
most conspicuous. It was obvious that the men, in 
singing the song, first gained power for themselves. 
Only then did it serve to enhance the power of all 
those phenomena in the outside world whose purpose 
it is to induce germination and to hasten growth. 

Still another example shows the creative potency 
which the Indian believes to live in the word. 

The more war-loving Ghippewa of the northern 
woodlands developed during the painful period of tran- 
sition a strange custom, extremely interesting from a 
psychotherapeutical point of view. 8 

It was the practice among the Chippewa as also 
among most of the Plains tribes for the youth who 
stood at the threshold of manhood to go out into soli- 
tude, fasting four days in silence and reverence, in 
preparation for a vision that would determine his fu- 
ture life. In this vision he would receive a song that he 
would sing only when he was about to enter the most 
decisive moment of his life: his first encounter with a 
foe. The arrival of the white man and the enforced 
and too monotonously peaceful life on a reservation 
made going on the warpath, by and by, a custom of 
the past. Tlius, the song formerly received in a dream 
vision remained unsung. 

But this song meant a reservoir of power, of unused 
magic and strength. And unused energy every psy- 
chiatrist knows it is a constant threat to the mental 

See Frances Dcnsmorc, Chippewa Music, II. Bureau o Ameri- 
can Ethnology, Bulletin 55 (1913) , pp. 247-50, 



equilibrium of a person who carries with him, as in 
the case of the Chippewa the secretly working and 
ever-urging force of an unfulfilled dream. The Chip- 
pewa, in order to avert the threat of being slowly 
destroyed by his own "power," erects a pole. On top 
of it he fastens a rag on which he has painted the 
symbols of his song the sun, the moon, a star, or a 
deer. And everybody will know that in the hut in 
front of which stands such a pole lives a man who 
never sang his song, but who has the magic power to 
heal and to fight the fiercest of all enemies, death. He 
has transferred the energy which cannot find an outlet 
in the accustomed way into another field of activity. 
In parenthesis it may be added that die problem 
which these "primitives" were facing and solving ac- 
cording to their own needs and their own standards is 
not so very different from the psychological issue of 
our time and our own culture. Our crumbling ideals 
and values, our wobbling beliefs and anemic convic- 
tions seem to have got stuck in a "reservation" of utter 
dullness, and our longings and hopes lead a pitiful 
existence of spiritual starvation. We are beset with a 
perpetually gnawing consciousness of unfulfillment, 
even though it may be felt only vaguely by most of us. 
Unused energy is threatening to eat us up from within, 
and it is a major task of our own "medicine men of 
the soul" to give these undirected energies a new and 
meaningful direction. The passionate culture criticism 
of an R. M. Holzapfel or an Edward Sapir has not yet 
lost its poignant validity, unfortunately. 



I cannot conclude this chapter on the word and its 
magic healing power, as experienced by the aborigines 
of America, without mentioning his relation to the 
creative potency that is inherent in silence, the secret, 
and solitude. 

Wherever the word is revered as a tool around which 
still vibrates the magic halo of primeval creation, there 
silence, too, is esteemed a reservoir of spiritual strength. 
Wherever the value of the word deteriorated, turning 
into a cheap weapon and an easy coin, the intrinsic 
meaning of silence was also lost. We, indeed, live in a 
period of an alarming inflation of the word, and noth- 
ing is more symptomatic of it than our aversion to 
silence and quietude that amounts to phobia. A mother 
of our civilization is deeply worried when her child 
prefers the ways of solitude and reticent seclusion. 

The attitude of the Indian toward the various forms 
of solitude and silence is altogether different, and the 
education in quietude and reticence are crucial parts 
of the child's training. 

Says the Lakota Indian Chief, Standing Bear: 

Training began with children who were taught to sit still 
and enjoy it. They were taught to use their organs of smell, 
to look when there was apparently nothing to see, and to 
listen intently when all seemingly was quiet. A child that 
cannot sit still is a half-developed child. 

And again: 

Excessive manners were put down as insincere, and the 
constant talker was considered rude and thoughtless. Con- 
versation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried man- 



ner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how im- 
portant, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause 
giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of 
beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was mean- 
ingful widi the Dakota. , . . Also in the midst of sorrow, 
sickness, and death, or misfortune of any kind, and in the 
presence of the notable and great, silence was the mark of 
respect. More powerful than words was silence with the 
Lakota. . . . 

The esteem in which silence was held goes hand in 
hand with a preference for moderation in all ways. 
To raise the voice was considered a mark of inferi- 
ority. Said Maria Chona, a Papago woman, to Ruth 

My father went on talking to me in a low voice. That is 
how our people always talk to their children, so low and 
quiet, the child thinks he is dreaming. But he never forgets. 

The merciless abuse of the word on the part of the 
white man was, it seems, already current at the time 
when the Jesuit Fathers set out to do missionary work 
among the red men. For when Paul Le Jcunc jotted 
down the first impressions die Indians had made upon 
him, he emphasized as the most striking one the fact 
"that they do not all talk at once, but one after the 
other, listening patiently." And it was for this very 
reason that he preferred to share a cabin with the 
"primitives" rather than with his own countrymen, 
who could not keep quiet for a minute. 

One of the reasons why modern man, generally speak- 
ing, avoids the silence of solitude and meditation with 
such circumspection, is that he fears to faoc the empti- 
ness of his world. He rather drugs himself with die 
opiates of noise, speed, and bustle, which render him 


immune against the giddying sight of this yawning 
emptiness which is his heaven and his soul. 

But to the Indian there was no such thing as empti- 
ness in the world. There was no object around him, 
that was not alive with spirit, and earth and tree 
and stone and the wide scope of the heaven were 
tenanted with numberless supernaturals and the wan- 
dering souls of the dead. And it was only in the solitude 
o remote places and in the sheltering silence of the 
night that the voices of these spirits might be heard. 

Ohiyesa lamented deeply the loss of solitude with 
which the Indian was afflicted with the advance of the 
white man's noisy civilization. Says he in his fine book, 
The Soul of the Indian: 

To the untutored sage the concentration of population 
was the prolific mother of all evils, moral no less than phys- 
ical. . . . And not less dreaded than the pestilence follow- 
ing upon crowded and unsanitary dwellings was the loss of 
spiritual power inseparable from too close contact with one's 
fellow men. All who have lived much out of doors know 
that there is a magnetic and nervous force that accumulates 
in solitude and that is quickly dissipated by life in a crowd. 

Another Plains Indian, also of high standing, Black 
Elk, suffering immeasurably from having to watch 
helplessly his people's rapid decline, went across the 
Big Water to the homelands of the white man, in the 
vain hope of learning ways with which to mend the 
broken hoop of his nation. He returned, stunned 
from, the din and smoke and narrowness of crowded 
cities. And he felt, characteristically, like a man who 
could never dream a dream again. 

Owing to his infallible religious instinct, the Indian 
not only made the observation of silence and long 


vigils of solitude important parts of his children^' and 
his own training but, being fully aware of the role 
which the "secret" plays in the religious development 
of the individual, he taught his children strict reticence 
about the most decisive experiences they had during 
their initiatory rites. 

Many of the Western psychiatrists, living, just as 
their patients do, under the general spell of word infla- 
tion, have made it a point of their therapy to mark 
any individual secret as a serious obstacle to the recov- 
ery of die lost mental balance. Hence the vogue of 
endless "confessions" and alarming self-analyses. 

The Indian, however, discriminated soundly be- 
tween the soul-endangering influence of the secret an 
evil deed could exert and the healing power of a reli- 
gious secret. Only the former had to be confessed in 
the face of the community, lest the owner of this 
secret be destroyed by the poison it was capable of 
spreading; the latter was treasured as the most precious 
personal possession of the individual. The Omaha 
youth never tells of the vision he receives during the 
rites of adolescence. And likewise the Yuma Indian 
says that if a "man tells his dream, it passes with the 
day." And among the Wishram, "no one ever revealed 
how he came by his spirit; only at the hour of death 
he disclosed all the mysteries pertaining to it." And, 
continues Dr. Spier, <even those Indians who seem 
thoroughly civilized and sophisticated guard their 
spirit-power which they received in a dream as a secret 
and tell it to no one. Clark Wissler also, in his unex- 
celled classics on the Blackfoot Indians, points out re- 
peatedly the importance of the religious secret in the 


individual development of members of this northern 
Plains tribe. 

It seems, indeed, a sign of cultural maturity rather 
than of pubescence when not only the word is con- 
sidered sacred and is therefore used with reverent 
economy, but when also the individual "secret" is 
esteemed sacred as an inalienable personal possession. 


Songs might be obtained in two different ways. One 
method cultivated by the Indians of the plains is the 
following: a youth or a man who is troubled with grief 
he no longer can bear without supernatural help goes 
out into the solitude to seek a vision in which Wa- 
konda may reveal himself and bestow upon him a song 
that will guide him throughout his future life. Severe 
fasting and long vigils are absolutely necessary prere- 
quisites for the acquisition of supernatural help, which 
is by no means always granted. 8 

Another way is practiced by various tribes of south- 
ern California and the southwestern deserts, the Yuma 
and Mohave especially. The power of the song comes 
to them unsought in the dream of the night, though 
there are exceptions where the song-bestowing dream 
is artificially produced by means of a drug, jimson- 
weed. But the natives themselves admit that the days 
of those who try to direct spiritual power upon them- 
selves in this manner are numbered. 

These southwestern desert tribes are of a curious 

Ruth Benedict, "The Vision in Plains Culture," in American 
Anthropologist, New Series, XXIV. 



interest from a psychological point o view. Though 
they are neighbors of the Pueblo people, who are given 
to rigid ritual and ceremony, outward expressions of 
religious life have little or no appeal to them. 

They are in need neither of priesthood nor of altar; 
symbol, mask, and formalized prayer find no place in 
their religious practices. For with these tribes, the 
dream is the only source and evidence of supernatural 
power, and everybody might be a medicine man or 
priest according to his dreams. Says Leslie Spier, to 
whom we are indebted for some of the most elucidat- 
ing accounts and analyses of those tribes who have 
made the dream the center around which all the activi- 
ties of their daily routine circle: 

At the heart of the Maricopa culture was the dream ex- 
perience. It was the one thing of which they constantly 
talked, the significant aspect of their life as they saw it. ... 
Dream experience was at the bottom of all success in life, 
and as such their constant preoccupation. Learning was dis- 
placed by dreaming, ... A single statement of Last Star's 
epitomizes their attitude: "Everyone who is prosperous or 
successful must have dreamed of something. It is not be- 
cause he is a good worker that he is prosperous, but because 
he dreamt." 

Moreover, the individual dream is not only the basis 
of every success and achievement whatsoever, but also 
of shamanistic power, of myth and song and supernat- 
ural relations. All myths and songs, though in reality 
handed down by ancient tradition, are dreamed anew 
by each narrator and singer. 

Needless to say, the songs obtained thus in dreams 
conform to a definite pattern of the tribal culture and 
only seldom deviate considerably from the grooves 
chiseled out by the dream experiences of generations. 



This fact, however, does not impair a sense of indi- 
vidual creativeness so characteristic of these people: 
everybody is sure to shape his life according to his 
dreams in perfect freedom from tradition, just as the 
Pueblo potter is convinced that the designs she has 
dreamed about are new creations of her mind and not 
merely repetitions of ancient patterns. In any case, a 
dream is obliging, and it is a strict requirement that 
a medicine man must live up to his dream; else his 
power will depart, and his life will be shortened. 

The Jesuit Fathers were keen observers and born 
anthropologists. It is thus of interest to read Father 
Francois Du Peron's letter on the Hurons in reference 
to the paramount role the dream played in the life of 
these northern tribes. Says he: 

All their actions are dictated to them directly by the devil, 
who speaks to them now in the form o a crow or some 
similar bird, now in the form of a flame or a ghost, and all 
this in dreams, to which they show great deference. They 
consider the dream as the master of their lives, it is the God 
of the country. It is this which dictates to them their feasts, 
their hunting, their fishing, their war, their trade with the 
French, their remedies, their dances, their games, their 

The words of these dream songs are usually obscure, 
as it is their purpose to conceal the true meaning of 
the dream to the outsider. But to the owner every word 
is fraught with spiritual potency and significance. 
These words are his fetish, his shield, and his never- 
failing source of renewal. Above all, his song is instru- 
mental in re-establishing in the hour of need, the 
condition under which it came to hima condition of 
direct communication with deity. 



The Plains Indian not only tries to prepare himself 
for a vision by seeking the solitude of nature, undis- 
turbed by man, and by the endurance of hunger and 
sorrowful vigils during long nights of loneliness, but 
he also aims to make his subconscious susceptible to 
time helping influences of the supernaturals by the 
steady contemplation of certain aspects of nature, until 
he gradually loses the sense of his own personality and 
identifies himself with the forms of his environment. 
In his growing trance he becomes so very much part 
of the tree, the storm, the thunder, the animal which 
he contemplates, that when finally the song comes to 
him it is the song of the thunder or of the tree that 
he is learning and making his own. 

We choose two examples from Frances Densmore's 
work on the Chippewa. The words of the first song 

The wind only I am afraid of. 

And the words of the other: 


I go about pitying myself 
While I am carried by the wind 
Across the sky. 

The exact meaning of these songs could not be un- 
derstood if it were not for the explanation the inter- 
preter gave Miss Densmore. 

The first song was received by a youth during a vi- 
sion in which he heard the trees singing as though they 
were alive. They sang that they feared nothing but 
the wind, for only the winds could defeat them. After 
this vision the young man identified himself with the 
trees, for he will be afraid o nodiing on his warpath; 


of nothing but the howling -winds and these will never 
crush him. 

The second song echoed out of the contemplation 
of the storm mystery, out of the sky and the immense 
loneliness of the prairie. The dreamer becomes the 
companion of the swirling winds beneath the sky- 
torn away from his tribesmen, and therefore suffering, 
but close to the place where the powers dwell. 


The Lakota Chief Standing Bear says in his fine 
Autob iography : 

Sometimes during the night or stillness of day, a voice 
would be heard singing the brave song. This meant that 
sorrow was present either a brave was going on the war- 
path and expected to die, or else a family was looking for 
the death of some member of it. The brave song was to 
fortify one to meet any ordeal bravely and to keep up fal- 
tering spirits. I remember, when we children were on our 
way to Carlisle School, thinking that we were on our way 
to meet death at the hands of the white people, the older 
boys sang brave songs, so that we would all meet death ac- 
cording to the code of the Lakota fearlessly. 

It is this custom of the brave song or death song 
in which the Indian soul expresses itself at its purest; 
a custom, as it seems, unknown among other people, 
so far as I am aware; with the one exception of the 
Japanese, perhaps. 

Among scholars little attention has been paid as yet 
to this noble custom we find scattered here and there 
among various tribes of the American Indian. Some 
authorities . seem to doubt altogether whether there 



existed a song type that could be called a true death 
song. But there is hardly any autobiography written 
by an Indian that docs not at least mention its exist- 
ence. The Jesuit Fathers, brave and indomitable ex- 
plorers of the Indian mind, likewise mention 
frequently the death song as practiced among the 
tribes of the Iroquois, the Ottawa, and the Huron. 

Due to the lack of any thorough investigation into 
this matter, there is no way of saying whether the cus- 
tom of singing a death song in the moment of utmost 
danger or in the very hour of dissolution was restricted 
to certain areas or distributed all over the continent. 
This much is surethe Indians of the Plains as well 
as those of the northwest coast and the southwestern 
deserts were well familiar with it. 

Material shows that there existed two different pat- 
terns of die death song. The one resembles essentially 
die dream song, for it is received during a vision or a 
dream, but it is to be sung only in an hour o utter 
desolation, or when death stands face to face with the 
individual. The second type, however, is composed in 
the very hour of death and chanted with the last 
breath of the dying man. 

As an example of the former class, a song heard by 
Dr. Lowie among the Crow Indians may follow: 

Eternal are the heavens and the earth; 
Old people are poorly off. 
Do not be afraid. 

A few casual words, it may seem. Yet they comprise 

the essence of a world view, grim but serene: absence 

of a consoling belief in the continuance of man's soul 

after death, yet calm acceptance of the inevitable; and 



the assurance that it is better to die young amid the 
din of the battle, for it is a pitiful thing to be old and 

The songs of the second order reflect, at times most 
vividly, the stress of the hour, great suffering and great 

It is again to Frances Densmore that we turn for a 
suitable example from her vast collection of Indian 
songs and lore, unfortunately somewhat difficult of 
access for the ordinary reader. 

She tells the story of Nam^bine's, a leading warrior 
of the Chippewa, who was badly wounded during a 
fight with the Sioux. At his own request his comrades, 
who were about to retreat, laid him near the shelter- 
ing bushes to die. With his last strength he sang his 
death song he had composed at this time: 

The odor of death, 

I discern the odor of death 

In front of my body. 

And, looking into the faces of his friends, he added: 
"When you reach home sing this song for the women 
to dance by and tell them how I died. . . ." 

There is something of Greek grandeur and Greek 
simplicity about the dying of this wounded Indian, 
high up in the northern woods of America. His words 
of departure seem like a faint echo of those words en- 
graved upon the tombstone of the warriors fallen at 
Thcrmophylae ages ago. 

And here is the last song of a man who was about to 
be hanged, also composed on the spur of the moment: 

They will take me home, 
The spirit, 



And the death song of a warrior, left behind on the 
deserted battlefield and assisted only by his friend: 

From the middle 

Or the great water 

I am called by the spirits. 

Light as the last breath of the dying, these words 
flutter out and seem to mingle with the soft fumes 
and mists that rise from the river in the morning. It 
is as though the song, with the lightness of a bird's 
feather, will carry the departing soul up to where the 
stars are glittering and yonder where the rainbow 
touches the dome of the sky. 

In die mind of the Indian, song is associated with 
death in many ways. 

All over the world we meet with the belief that 
whatever is valued most highly among a people is con- 
nected in some way or other with the dead. Thus the 
Pueblo Indians assume that song, way back in times 
primeval, ascended from the realm of the dead and to 
this day has its roots down in the nourishing soil of 

The snake in North American mythology is usually 
associated not only with sky and water, rainbow, stars, 
and lightning, but also with the powers of the under- 
world, with night, destruction, and renewal. The ser- 
pent is conceived as a power that rules life as well as 

The origin myth of the southern Dicgucfio, for 
instance, tells how song came into being. 10 After 

10 Leslie Spier, Southern Dicguffio Civttoms, University of Cali- 
fornia Publications in American Archaelogy and Ethnology, 
Berkeley, 1923, pp. 338 tt seq. 



Tcikumat, the creator, had died, Wild Cat took charge 
of the cremation ceremonies. He ordered an enclosure 
to be built of wood, then he sent for Mattiawit, the 
mythical snake. He came. And he coiled his length 
around the pyre upon which the remains o the god 
were to be burned. Then fire was set to the structure. 
The serpent, amid the leaping flames, burst asunder 
"part flew back to the place he had come from, the rest 
burst into fragments. Each piece that flew off to the 
people was a song. Each gens received a song. . . ." 

The serpent had come from the underworld, the 
realm of death, and, dying, he created song for man. 

In the life of the Eskimo, song, as we have seen, 
played a paramount role. According to Knud Ras- 
mussen, not only the name of the drum with which 
they accompany the song, quilaut,is related to quilwsk, 
which means "the art of getting in touch with the 
spirits," but song itself is firmly believed to have come 
from the souls in the land of the dead. 11 

Among the Omahas of the Plains there exists an 
interesting funeral custom. When a woman or a man 
greatly loved and respected dies, the young men of the 
camp meet where the dead lies. Each of the youths 
makes two incisions in his upper left arm, and under 
the loop of the flesh thrusts a small willow twig. With 
the blood dripping on the leaves of the sprays, the 
men move in single file, facing the tent of the de- 

The contrast between the bleeding singers [says Alice 
Fletcher, the authority on the Omaha Indians] and the 
blithe major cadences o the song, suggestive of birds, sun- 

"Knud Rasmussen, The Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik 
Exkirno, Copenhagen, 1939, pp. 228-9. 



shine, and the delights o the upper air, throws light on the 
Omaha belief relative to death and to song. Music, it was 
explained, can reach the unseen world and carry thither 
man's thought and aspirations. The song is of the spirit of 
the dead; it is to cheer him as he goes from his dear ones 
left behind on earth; so, as he hears the voices of his friends, 
their glad tones help him to go forward on his inevitable 

Among the Winnebago o the Great Lakes district, 
the Picuris Indians of the Southwest, and the Tlingit 
of the northwest coast, it was the custom to sing songs 
to bridge for the departed the long and fearful dis- 
tance that stretches between the land of the living and 
the land of the dead. 

Chapter II: The Influence of Christi- 
anity Upon the Aboriginal 
Cultures of A merica 

In this collection of indigenous prose and poetry 
there is hardly a passage or a verse which is not faintly 
touched by the white man's influence, if only by pass- 
ing through the medium of a foreign language. Even 
those examples chosen from biographies written and 
translated by natives themselves can only be under- 
stood against the background of transition and as the 
results of the tragic clash of two cultures which could, 
as yet, neither be fused nor welded into a new crea- 
tive whole. 

Many of the items of this anthology, then, represent 
vividly a state of transition and assimilation, or are 
the expression of dogged defense and passionate rejec- 
tion, as the case may be. This, in my opinion, does not 
affect the value of the material. On the contrary, from 
a psychological point of view, its significance cannot 
well be underrated. The individual who, in the hour 
of smarting change and in the face of foreign ideas 
and bewildering new ways of life, gives vent to his 
sentiments and thoughts will perhaps allow a deeper 
insight into the hidden recesses of his soul than he 
does in tale and speech and song produced in times 
of sheltered and undisturbed tradition. 

Besides, Ohiyesa's pessimism as to the dubious value 
of the hitherto garnered myths and songs is valid only 
as far as the Plains Indians are concerned, and even 



then only to a certain degree. This brilliant race in- 
deed succumbed utterly to the devastating influence of 
alien doctrines, of trade, whisky, spirit of competition, 
and pitiful misunderstanding. But to most of the re- 
maining tribes can be applied with some minor mod- 
ificationswhat Gushing said of the Zuni Indians: 

The Zufii faith ... is a drop of oil in water, surrounded 
and touched at every point, yet in no place penetrated or 
changed inwardly by the flood of alien belief that descended 
upon it. ... The Zufii adjusts other beliefs and opinions 
to his own, but never his own beliefs and opinions to 
others; and even his usages are almost never changed in 
spirit, however much so in externals. . . . Thus he is slow 
to adopt from alien people any but material suggestions . . . 
and especially in religious culture, the Zufii is almost as 
strictly archaic as in the days ere his land was discovered. 

Still, the problem in which the student of cultural 
contacts is most interested, is not only the question of 
what attracted the native and which of the culture 
elements he selected, but also how he assimilated the 
adopted elements and, above all, which of the new 
ideas he instinctively refused to accept. 

Ohiyesa stresses the fact that there was undoubtedly 
much in primitive Christianity to appeal to the In- 
dian. Above all, it was the ritual of baptism that was 
likely to bridge the old familiar traditions with the 
new belief which the zealous missionaries tried to graft 
upon the bewildered minds of the Indians. 

The Jesuit Father Allouez, who worked among the 
Ottawa tribes, remarked in his journal (1666) that 
eventually the "savages" had lost their dread of bap- 
tism as causing death; they were now beginning to 
see in this rite a means of curing sickness and raising 



up the dying. Some thirty years previous to the experi- 
ences of Father Allouez, Paul Le Jeune comments in 
his usual drastic and lively manner on the matters of 
baptism, using a report of Father Br<beuf. Says he: 

Some Savages have become Christians this year; three 
have been baptized this winter during my absence. The first 
was a young man named Sasoumat. Father Brebeuf gave 
me this account of him. 

"Having learned of the illness of this young man, I went 
to visit him, and, having sounded him, we found him filled 
with a great desire to receive Holy Baptism. We deferred 
this for a few days, in order to instruct him more fully. At 
last he sent word to me, through our savage Manitougatche, 
that I should come and baptize him, saying that the night 
before he had seen me in his sleep, coming to his cabin to 
administer to him this sacrament; and that, as soon as I sat 
down near him, all his sickness went away. . . . Neverthe- 
less I refused his request, in order the more to stimulate his 
desire, so that another savage who was present, not being 
able to bear this delay, asked me why I did not baptize him, 
since it was only necessary to throw a little water upon 

Good medicine meant baptism to the Indians of 
the Woods, and the tangible components of this sacra- 
ment seemed familiar and thus convincing. 

The same Fathers who understood so well how to 
win the hearts of the natives with the life-preserving 
magic of baptism had less success with the Last Sacra- 
ment and the doctrine of hell. Elsie C. Parsons is quite 
right when she says, referring to the Zapotec Indians 
of Mexico, that if the Church could have presented the 
last sacrament as supplying medicine for the last jour- 
ney, this rite would have taken root. 

But seldom could the Indians accept the idea of re- 
ward and punishment after death, much though the 



early missionaries operated with the concept to make 
the souls of the poor heathen more pliable. Most of 
the Indians held the concept of hell in contempt and 
thought it downright barbarous. For instance, in the 
pantheon of the Acoma Indians, the Christian Dios 
Yoshti maintains his place side by side with the sun 
god, the spirits of the dead, the revered clouds, the 
twin war gods, and the moon. But he is not regarded 
as very powerful, and he is not held in great respect, 
for, as a native puts it, "he is not particularly well 
disposed toward the people, and he punishes some 
people after death; none of our deities do this." The 
first place in the divine hierarchyafter a long and 
persistent contact with the Catholic Churchis still 
occupied by Jaticu, the benign mother who resides at 
Shipap, the place whence all life emerges and to which 
it again returns. She is most sacred, she does not pun- 
ish, and a tender feeling is kept for her. The presence 
of her breath is felt wherever a prayer is spoken and a 
sacrifice offered. 1 

In many places, Jesus and the Virgin have found a 
way into the hearts of the aborigines, but they are sel- 
dom believed to exert any control over the most im- 
portant things in the lives of the natives namely, over 
the fertility of the soil, rain and sunshine, and the 
growth of the crops. Still, they are accepted as success- 
ful curers and have, according to experience, worked 
as well as many of the aboriginal charms and fetishes. 

"Curing-methods of all kinds," says Parsons in her 
book on Mitla, "from calling stray spirits, chasing off 

1 Leslie A. White, The Acoma Indians, 47th Report of the 
Bureau of American Ethnology, 1949/30. 



evil spirits down to sucking . . . are absolutely in ac- 
cord with the Church." 

The catholicized Indian has little use for the devil, 
for if he wants to do harm to some enemy, all he has 
to do is to visit the three crosses of Calvary and pray 
sincerely to the saints at noontime. For it is the saints 
who work for good and for evil. Thus, while San An- 
tonio del Mundo at Mitla is the patron saint of the 
curers, San Esquipula is the secret helper of those who 
wish to inflict an ailment upon some disliked person. 

The saints simply turned into local spirits that is 
into supernaturals who are capable of bringing about 
sickness and death upon urgent request as well as be- 
ing able to heal and to raise the dead. 

Various tribes, though, took readily enough to Chris- 
tian concepts and symbols provided they promised to 
be the vehicles of greater power. Christ was said to 
heal the sick and to make the blind see. Naturally, In- 
dians stricken with trachoma welcomed the new Trans- 
former with understandable enthusiasm. 

An autobiographical note of the Oglala Sioux, 
Sword, is of interest in this connection. Says he: 

In war with the white people I found their Wakan Tanka 
superior. I then . . . served Wakan Tanka according to the 
white people's manner and with all my power. 

However, he continued to treasure his shamanistic 
bundle the wasicun and, thus he frankly admits, he 
was "afraid to offend it, because the spirit of an Oglala 
may go to the spirit land of the Lakota." 2 

Other tribes again accepted and assimilated Chris- 
tian concepts more willingly than other tribes on ac- 

*J. R. Walker, The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the 
Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota, 19x7, p. 159. 



count of a certain doctrinal similarity between the 
native religion and the new belief. Dr. Spier has shown 
that the Ghost Dance religion of 1890, hitherto con- 
sidered as having sprung up mainly under the influ- 
ence of, and as a reaction against, Christian influences, 
had its historical antecedent in the Prophet Dance of 
the Northwest, the doctrine of which "belief in the 
impending destruction and renewal of the world, when 
the dead would return" was aboriginal. 

On the whole, Christianity only seldom touches the 
deepest core o the indigenous religious life, in spite of 
intense missionary work. This is shown impressively 
by the study of J. Eric Thompson in the religious 
practices of the Maya of Southern and British Hon- 
duras. The life of these Maya-speaking people of San 
Antonio, originally emigrants from San Luis in Peten, 
centers round agriculture, and all their thoughts and 
emotions are rooted in their soil and are bound up with 
sowing and with harvesting. The milpa is their home 
and their temple and their altar; it is there that they 
meet God, and the angels, and the ancient deities. It 
is only in connection with the preparation of the milpa, 
though, that the prayers to the old lords of field and 
forest have survived. Even the memory of the feathered 
serpent has faded, and the esoteric anthropomorphiza- 
tion of mathematical concepts has left no trace on the 
minds of these tillers of the soil. But the old agricul- 
tural deities still guard the milpa; and the Chacs 
that is, the rain gods and the spirits of the dead still 
hover around the maturing crops; the lords of the 
forest have not yet vanished. 

The Socotz Maya, before clearing the milpa, erects 
an altar on the field, with calabashes as drink offerings 



to the gods. Previous to cutting the first tree, a lump 
of copal is burned, and while the fumes of the incense 
ascend, the Maya recites the following prayer: 

O God, my mother, my father, Huitz-Hok, Lord of the 
Hills and Valleys, Che, Spirit of die Forests, be patient widi 
me, I am about to do as my fadiers have ever done. Now I 
make my offering to you as I am about to trouble your soul. 
You will perhaps have die strengdi to suffer it. I am about 
to dirty you, I am going to work you in order diat I may 
live. I pray you suffer no snake to bite me. Permit not die 
scorpion or die wasp to sting me. Bid die trees that they 
fall not upon me, widi all my soul I am going to work you. 

During sowing time similar prayers are spoken, and 
at the season when rain is needed, the rain deities are 
addressed and offerings are made. If the prayers for 
rain are not answered in the expected way, the natives 
turn to the saints of the Church and call their atten- 
tion to the drought menacing the crops. If this, too, 
is not effective, any saint is taken outside and placed 
right in the parching sun, so that he or she may know 
how it feels. 

One should be surprised, says J. Eric Thompson, not 
that so little but rather that so much has survived of 
the ancient religion. 

. . . despite three centuries of cruel tyranny, cold-blooded 
abuse, and heartless persecution by bodi die civil and reli- 
gious audiorities . . . die atrocities committed on die na- 
tives of Latin America during these diree centuries have 
revealed die Christian civilization in no bright light. In Yu- 
catin, only since die introduction o the semisocialist regime 
has die Maya been treated as a human being radier than a 
beast of burden. The Maya is no longer whipped for not 
attending or being late for church. . . . 

I think we have overemphasized the Indian's cling- 


ing to tradition, his stubborn obduracy to change. 
There is ample evidence that aborigines received mis- 
sionaries with the utmost courtesy, eager to hear the 
message of the Great Shining Spirit from across the 
Big Water. The way die Illinois received Father Mar- 
quette on his route down the Mississippi is one exam- 
ple of how the "savages" willingly opened their ears 
to the story of the unknown god. Simple and beauti- 
ful is the speech with which the Chief answered the 
address o Father Marquette and worth quoting here: 

I thank thee, Black Gown, and thee, Frenchman, [turning 
to Joliet] for having taken so much trouble to come to visit 
us. Never has the earth been so beautiful, as today; never 
has our river been so calm, or so clear of rocks, which your 
canoes have removed in passing; never has our tobacco 
tasted so good, or our corn appeared so fine, as we now see 
them ... I beg thee to have pity on me and on all my 
nation. It is thou who knowest the Great Spirit who has 
made us all. It is thou who speakest to Him, and who 
hearest His word. Beg Him to give me health and life and 
to come and dwell with us, in order to make us know Him. 

These Illinois Indians, so sympathetically described 
by Father Marquette, are not an exception. The Nez 
Perce* Indians even sent a delegation to St. Louis to 
ask for missionaries and the powerful Book of the 
white man. But wherever the native had the opportu- 
nity to gain a deeper insight into the teachings of 
Christianity and to watch at the same time the white 
man's way of living, he very soon became fully aware 
of the painful discrepancy between theory and prac- 
tice. So the Indian closed himself away from the influ- 
ences of a civilization that tolerated and even, fostered 
treason, exploitation and cruelties without end. 


Don Diego de Vargas, the hero o the reconquest of 
New Mexico, and said to have been one of the most 
humane conquerors in the history of American coloni- 
zation, summarizes his attitude toward the Indians in 
a letter to the Viceroy, as follows: 

I have two aims and purposes in view, the first being the 
idea ... to see if I can win them (the Indians) to our holy 
faith and, if so, have them as friends as in the case of the 
Taos tribe; and if unsuccessful in my purpose, and theirs 
is such that they persist rebellious and contumacious, then 
I will have them all destroyed and annihilated at once . . ." 

What sort of response can be expected to- a culture 
that offers a new creed on the point of a death-dealing 
sword? The many baptisms that followed in the wake 
of Vargas's reconquest were mostly not sincere. 

It is in the Pueblo of Taos itself that one may ob- 
serve most convincingly how Christianity touches as 
yet only the fringe of the native's inner world. 

In the shadow of the two large terraced communal 
structures timidly hides the small missionary church. 
Its simple white cross gives the impression that it is 
trying to pull up the soul of the approaching wor- 
shiper, but the pull downward of the Kiva ladders, op- 
posite, at the end of the plaza, seems to be stronger. 
The calls and signals to which the Indian responds 
still come from deep down, from out of the darkness 
where all things germinate and where the forces of 
life and death meet. The upward beck of the Cross 
has but little appeal to the Indian. His dead go down, 
not up. 

Still, when we entered the little church on the day 
previous to the fiesta of San Geronimo to take part in 
the Vesper service which was being celebrated, we were 


absorbed immediately into an exquisite atmosphere of 
true devotion and sincere worship. There they were 
kneeling, the Indian women, wrapped in their colorful 
shawls, devout and yet casual, without strain or stress. 
They were given and opened to invisible influences; 
and their hands rested upon their children, who were 
sitting in front of them, playing noiselessly. Women 
kept coming and going, offering candles and lighting 
them at the base of the altar. Small Indian children 
squatted, lost in the sight of the lovely light that kept 
dancing and nickering, as if the breath of some un- 
seen power were touching it all the time. The priest 
commenced intoning the old, time-holied cadences, 
and the choir was responding. The aged Indian, clad 
in the garments of his tribe, being the altar boy, swayed 
the incense vessel and made the silver bell ring. Divin- 
ity was present who was not aware of it? But which 
divinity? Who knows the name of the god whose pres- 
ence was felt in the hearts of the natives while the 
fumes of the incense was curling its fragrant way down 
the nave? 

We left the church. The declining sun was steeping 
the mountain in an unearthly splendor of all tints of 
rose and purple, and the plaza was aglow in vibrant 
amber. The unaccented beat of a drum sounded muf- 
fled out of one of those subterranean kivas yonder. 
And when the sun was about to set, the old men 
emerged from the kiva and gathered in the front yard 
of the church. They were deeply blanketed, and each 
of them carried a branch of yellow aspen in his hands. 
And while the church bell was claiming, they began to 
chant their ancient prayers and to shuffle out of the 
yard, away from the Cross, along the rippling moun- 


tain stream, from pyramid to pyramid. And with song 
and dance they greeted the departing sun, it being the 
eve of his voyage through winter, death, and under- 
world. Out of the strength of their unitedness, out of 
the accumulated power that grows from the unity of 
rhythm and song and drum beat, the old men tried to 
bestow upon the failing sun the strength he might 
need on his perilous voyage. And while they sang 
words of magic and of power, they shuffled away from 
the Cross, always away, and even the memory of the 
Virgin's image seemed to have faded. 

This trend became still more obvious during the 
ceremonies of the following day, the day of San Geron- 
imo proper. The patron of the Pueblo sat within the 
bower of evergreen and aspen branches erected at the 
end of the ancient race track. Amid a crowd of visiting 
Apaches, Hopis, and Santo Domingo Indians, the Saint 
was watching benignly the races which were carried on 
not in a spirit of competition, but again in order to 
extend their strength to the Sun, who is about to en- 
counter the dangerous powers of the underworld. 8 

The Pueblefios were nude except for the breechcloth 
and the ceremonial kilt, the latter being beautifully 
embroidered with the images of the heavenly bodies 
and various symbols of growth and fertility. Their 
bodies were painted in many designs and glued all 
over with eagle down in order to gain the swiftness 
and the power of the wide-winged eagle. 

I have seldom witnessed such joyful devotion, such 
concentrated and gladdened abandonment of self for 

* Authorities seem to disagree as to the meaning of these races. 
The Indians are most reticent about such matters. But there is 
little doubt that the races are related to cosmic phenomena. 



the benefit of a higher, though primitive, force. The 
onlooker, the gaping white man, no longer existed; he 
seemed to be obliterated. Only San Geronimo looked 
on. The Indians did not mind. 

Thus, wherever the old spirit revives and the racial 
resources begin to flow again, the movement "back to 
the blanket" may be observed not infrequently, espe- 
cially where indigenous religious concepts are con- 

Leslie A. White was once told the dream of a native 
of Acoma. The content of this dream expresses exactly 
this retrospective attitude of many Indians of today. 
The man confessed that he had been certain all the 
time to disbelieve in the Katcinas (the spirits of the 
dead), Christ having replaced the spirits of the an- 
cients. But then he dreamed he had died and gone to 
heaven. He found himself standing before God; he 
could not remember exactly how God looked, "but he 
seemed to resemble in appearance and dress a success- 
ful American businessman." He was in an officclike 
room, seated behind a desk, "just like a bank." God 
asked him, "Where is your license?" meaning, "Where 
is the sign that you have the right to enter heaven?" 
The Indian had a Bible and showed it. God said, "No. 
That's not your license." And he showed the man a 
prayer stick, saying that the Bible was the white man's 
license, but the prayer stick was the Indian's license. 

All that this Indian, upon being questioned, had to 
reply was that the dream was right. 

I do not doubt, however, that if the Indian of high 
standing had encountered really superior exponents 
of the Christian culture, capable of vivifying immortal 
beings like Augustine, Saint Francis, and Saint Theresa 



of Avila, the natives would have opened their hearts 
to the teachings of such a religion. For the Indian has 
a keen sense of what is true and genuine; he rejects 
only that which is spurious and false. But &e was made 
to face Christianity at a time when its unity of faith 
with the demands of reality had fallen apart, when 
creed and life had begun to oppose each other, and, 
worst of all, when Western man, devoted to a life of 
action and not of contemplation, was beginning to 
make a virtue out of the tragic fact that he never could 
live up to his confessed ideal. 

To the dubious attitude of the conqueror the In- 
dian preferred his sheltering blanket, his old magic, 
and his primitive ideals. 


In many Pueblos of the American Southwest at 
least where the aborigines have recovered the strength 
to withstand the more disintegrating influences of an 
alien civilization -the mission church has become an 
integral part not only of native architecture, but also 
of native life and religion. There appears to be no 
conflict between the emblems of the Christian church 
and the power-charged symbols of indigenous belief. 
The Chalice and the Immaculate Ear of Corn do not 
always exclude each other. Both stand for the un- 
broken flux of life. The Christian symbols which were 
thought to inspire an ascetic life, the ultimate goal of 
which was the Beyond, have not seldom received in 
the hands of the Indians their old pagan significance: 
they again serve the serious and joyful task of fructi- 



fication of life in all its manifestations and the gentle 
but irresistible promotion of growth. 

On the west bank of the Rio Grande, not far from 
one of those steep-cliffed mesas, the Pueblo of San Fe- 
lipe lies. I spent only one night there the night be- 
fore Christmas. But it taught me more about Pueblo 
religion than many days spent in other Pueblos. 

Midnight had already passed when our Indian friend 
led us from his house outside the court to the church. 
A misty rain hung in the air, and it was very silent. 
It was a relief to see, far distant, a window lighted; 
and though there was no star and no moon, the fort- 
resslike church seemed to radiate a quaint light. The 
two massive towers with their open belfries stood out 
clearly against the velvety darkness of the night, and 
above the wooden gallery that connects the twin tow- 
ers loomed the Cross, deepening still more the extreme 
severity of the architecture. 

Inside, the priest was already celebrating the Mass. 
No Indian woman was kneeling, so far as I could see; 
here and there I noticed a man carrying a baby on his 
back, secured in the loop of the blanket slung around 
his body. The priest went slowly through the per- 
formance of his duties as the congregation looked on, 
standing about casually or kneeling. The priest mixed 
wine and water. He bent his head before the Tate- 
nacle, praying. But there seemed to be no spreading 
sense of real devotion, no feeling of worship or of the 
presence of divinity. The priest appeared to be lost in. 
his task, and, with his back turned toward the congre- 
gation most of the time, he seemed to have forgotten 
about the rest of humanity. The hour seemed long. It 
was uncomfortable, too, to kneel on the wet clay iloor 


of the church with the rain steadily dropping through 
the roof all around. 

Finally the priest departed. There was a moment in 
which it seemed as if life quickened all of a sudden, 
as if the dim lights of the church had acquired a new 
radiance. We lined up with the San Felipans to pay 
our tribute at the altar to what I did not yet know. 
When I reached the sanctuario to give my little offer- 
ing, I set eyes on the most unexpected sight of my life. 
Maria and Jos6 were lying in a bed on the altar, offer- 
ings of bread piled at their heads. The Indian in front 
of me was just lifting the bedcover gently and tucking 
it in again with solicitude and then kissing Maria, 
lightly, but with great devotion. 

And this is why there is no conflict between the 
Christian doctrine and the native religion. Even Maria 
and Jos6 are made to serve the fulfillment of the one 
eternal desire of man, fertility, in whatever form it 
may be coveted. 

Four or five little toy horses stood in line behind 
the bed, all of them looking down upon the couple 
with amazement, while a huge cow peeped around the 
corner of the altar, seeming shy and a little worried, 
as cows sometimes do. That the animals took such a 
lively part in the happenings of this Christmas Eve 
long, long ago is something which assuredly has an 
appeal to the Indian: there was a time, then, when 
man and animal, all around the earth, understood 
each other's language and were devoted fervently to 
each other's welfare. 

Meantime, a strange silence had gathered in the 
church, charged with a peculiar power of an almost 
electric quality. And into this exciting quietude the 



voice of a bird fell, just a timid tinkle at first, a cau- 
tious call, but soon answered by innumerable voices 
of winged creatures, invisible and hidden away from 
the curious eye of man. There was a chirping and 
twittering without end, a gay chorus of birds announc- 
ing that there were things going to happen never seen 
before. . . . 

The doors of the church were flung open. The dim 
thud of a drum was heard, the rhythmic beat of steps 
approaching and out of the dark of the night the 
warriors emerged, filing into the church, stamping 
down the nave, whooping and rattling, and above this 
sudden din of voices, bells, shells, drums, the birds 
kept warbling and calling. 

It was only with the second dance that I could un- 
derstandor at least I think I understood the mean- 
ing of it all. 

While the tenor of the first dance was a vivacious 
one, with much flaring red, flying eagle feathers, em- 
phatic step, urgent song, powerful drum beat, the sec- 
ond dance was more restrained, though, without doubt 
it also was a warriors' dance. Quiet in step and color, 
men and women danced together, first forming one 
long line, then facing each other. There were also very 
small boys dancing and hopping with the mastery of 
lifelong experience. AH the dancers had eagle feathers 
fastened to the crowns of their heads. The men were 
nude except for the ceremonial buckskin kilt. Every 
other man had painted his face and the upper part of 
his body black and a queer glittering black it was 
that he had under his eyes and on his kilt he had the 
image of the horned serpent; while the alternate men, 
had splotches of white all over their bodies and a white 


serpent coiling up their left arms. The men carried a 
rattle in the right hand and a bow in the left. The 
women held a bunch of arrows in both hands. 

The rhythm of the dance was restrained, yet its 
quality was more insistent and stirring than that of 
the preceding dance. It seemed as if the warriors had 
changed the church into the kiva, stamping the ground 
as if calling the spirits from shtpap beneath, summon- 
ing the beings who had met death and therefore gained 
the power to bless life. The songs sung by the chorus, 
far in the rear of the church, sounded like incanta- 
tions in a minor key and resembled the muffled whirr 
of wings and sometimes the distant rumble of thunder. 
But ever and again a sudden shriek flared up, swoop- 
ing down upon the dancers, who then quickened the 
rhythm of their steps and the intensity of their ges- 
tures. The leader of the ceremony stood apart from 
the choir and, like a conductor, by performing a su- 
perb dance on the spot, seemed to direct and inspire 
the dancers from an inexhaustible reservoir of spir- 
itual strength. 

While the men and women were facing each other, 
the men rhythmically moved their bows toward their 
partners, and the women responded by passing their 
arrows up and down. This pantomime left no doubt 
about the ultimate purpose of the dance. The power 
that was produced by way of step and song and, above 
all, by way of a very subtle imitative magic, was sup- 
posed to mingle with the power that radiated from 
the miraculous presence of Marfa and Jos, up there 
on the altar. With the progress of the dance, a sense of 
utmost confidence seemed to spread: in due time the 


seed would germinate, the corn would grow, the har- 
vest be abundant. 

And then, when the dance had come to an end, it 
was indeed a moving sight to watch the warriors pass 
by and move up to the altar and kiss Maria ceremo- 
niallywith their eagle feathers whipping, Avanyv, 
coiling on kilt and bare arm, deer-hoofs rattling, bells 
chiming, and bear-claw necklaces suggesting great 
strength and aggressive power. 

"While the dancers were filing out and vanishing 
into the drizzling night, the birds redoubled their 
twittering, and old men went about distributing gifts 
to the children apples, nuts, and such good things. 
Before long, however, another group of dancers ranged 
into the church, escorted to position by the leader 
and the drum beater. This group instantly diffused 
an atmosphere of utmost solemnity, though their cos- 
tumes at first seemed incongruous. The young men- 
no women danced wore crowns built up out of vari- 
ous feathers, paper flowers and many-colored ribbons. 
At the napes of their necks dangled fluffy bundles 
of turkey feathers. Their black, wide-sleeved shirts- 
remindful of Russian blouses were crisscrossed with 
long flowing ribbons, gathered here and there and 
held together by Navajo clips. All of them wore high 
brown Navajo moccasins trimmed with silver buttons. 
In the left hand they carried bow and arrows adorned 
with blue and red ribbons, in the right hand a rattle. 
There was no separate chorus; the dancers themselves 
sang. And they danced with a sense of deep serious- 
ness, subdued somewhat and as if overshadowed by a 
presence, invisible but weighty and even threatening. 
Though the beater of the drum a beautiful, large 


drum it was, covered with a white skin occupied a 
more important position ceremonially than the drum 
beaters of the two preceding dances, it was neither he 
nor evjen the young men who represented the central 
part of the dance. It was the leader who obviously had 
the "power." He was the man who had "talked with 
the gods," and who therefore knew and had wisdom, 
though he was young. He was the man without flaw or 
blemish, perfect in spirit and body. It was he who 
imbued the dance with its almost trenchant quality of 
austerity. Skipping along the line of young men, he 
held every single dancer in his spiritual grip. He was 
authoritative but not despotic; imperative but not 
without benevolence. 

His body was painted white. An animal pelt was 
wagging at the rear of his kilt, and he held another 
pelt in his left hand. Around his head he wore a 
beaded band in which was stuck a very long, slender 
feather tipped with eagle down. This feather whipped 
resolutely, responding to every move, to every step 
and gesture, accentuating the stringent nature of every 
single turn of his body. Choreographically, his perform- 
ance was unique and of a rare, mature beauty, perhaps 
for the simple reason that there was not a gesture 
that did not serve a spiritual purpose, not a step but 
was patterned according to an age-old group experi- 
ence and had, therefore, become an instinct. He had 
an inimitable way of changing abruptly from a brisk 
walking step into a vigorous -dance step. Sometimes he 
paused for a moment, overlooking the file of dancers, 
quivering with alertness and yet perfectly self-con- 
trolled, only to snap back into action without warn- 
ing, stamping the ground, making queer angular mo- 


tions with his arms, angular and yet graceful, steeling 
the youths with strength, infusing them with his own 
power. And this seemed to be the ultimate purpose 
of this dance: accumulation of power, sheer, blind 
power. Whether it was intended to be used for good 
or for evil, who could tell? Perhaps, too, this dance had 
something to do with the Navajo, once the fiercest 
enemy of the sedentary Pueblenos. Either it commem- 
orated a victory over the one-time enemy, or it sym- 
bolized preparation for an attack. It is hard to tell. 

However, Maria and Josd were still sleeping together 
on the altar, and the spiritual inflexibility of the leader 
and the somber seriousness of the youths seemed to 
melt into an attitude of mellow devotion when they 
all filed up to the sanctuario, one by one, to pay 
homage before the couple and bend their knees and 
kiss Maria. I, too, walked up once more to have a look 
at Maria and Jose" and the animals. And when I turned 
around, a San Felipan stood behind me, with a friendly 
smile on his face, and he gave me an apple. At any 
time it is pleasant to be presented with an apple; but 
at this time and at this place it seemed to me to be a 
particularly good and happy omen. And thus came to 
a close the Christmas Eve at San Felipe. 


From the Northern Woodlands, the 
Basin Area, and the Great Plains 



You are a spirit, 
I am making you a spirit, 
In the place where I sit 
I am making you a spirit. 

Frances Densmore, Chippewa Music I, p. 95. This is a 
song which would be sung when a member of the Mide- 
tuiwin was dying when death was expected at any moment. 




In the Sky 
I am walking, 
A Bird 
I accompany. 

From ibid. II. This is a song which came to the mind 
of an Indian in a dream. "Many Indian songs," says Miss 
Densmore in her admirable work on Chippewa music, "are 
intended to exert a strong mental influence, and dream 
songs are supposed to have this power in greater degree 
than any others. The supernatural is very real to the In- 
dian. He puts himself in communication with it by fasting 
or by physical suffering. While his body is thus subordinated 
to the mind a song occurs to him. In after years he believes 
that by singing this song he can recall the condition under 
which it came to him a condition of direct communication 
with the supernatural." Ibid. I, p. 1 18. 




I am thinking 


I am thinking 

I have found my lover 


I think it is sol 

From ibid. II, p. 300. The Chippewa lover intersperses 
his songs with the music of the flute, while other songs are 
usually accompanied by either the drum or the rattle. The 
Chippewa expresses every phase of his life, every mood, in 
music and in song. But not the words are considered the 
essential part of this particular song, it is the melody, the 
peculiar rhythm, that conveys the meaning of the song more 
directly than any words could do, 



You are walking around 
Trying to remember 
What you promised, 
But you can't remember. 

From Frederick R. Burton, American Primitive Music, 
p. 377. Chippewa songs are concise and compact. They arc 
seldom complete in themselves, for usually they are only 
the mnemonic summaries of a long-trailing story. Frequently 
they are preluded by the singer with an explanation. The 
above song, however, does not need any explanation. 




A loon I thought it was 
But it was 
My love's 
Splashing oar. 

From. Frances Densmore, op. cit. I, p. 89. This lovely 
poem, composed of but a few words, though full of over- 
tones and hints of things unsaid, bears such a strange resem- 
blance to those exquisite little poems of classic Japanese 
literature that I cannot refrain from calling the reader's 
attention to this fact. In order to understand part of the 
American Indian's poetry one must be well trained in 
swiftly reacting upon the faintest suggestions, intimations, 
and symbols. He very often gives only the mere outline of 
a fleeting mood or of the lasting impression of an experience 
opening in himself or in the listener a train of thoughts 
and emotions: just what makes Japanese poetry on a dif- 
ferent level, to be surestand out so vividly from the more 
eloquent ways of the western poets. 



Okohe! okohe! natosi! iyo! 

Sun, take pity on me; take pity on me. 

Old age, old age, 

We are praying to your old age, 

For that I have chosen. 

Your children, morningstar, seven stars, the bunched 

stars, these and all stars, 
We can call upon them for help. 
J have called upon all of them. 
Take pity on me; 

Take pity on me that I may lead a good life. 
My children, now I have led them to old age. 
That which is above, now I choose, take pity on me. 

Old age, let me lead my children to it. 
Let me get a stock of many horses . . , 
Take pity on me that I get the full pay for all my work. 
Take pity on me; take pity on me; take heed. 

From Clark Wissler, Ceremonial Bundles of the Blackfoot 
Indians, p. 252. Says Wissler: 'It is scarcely too much to 
say that the Blackfoot are given to inordinate prayer. They 
will pray for permission to speak of sacred things, to tell 
religious narratives, in fact to do any unusual serious thing." 
And he continues: "A distinguished leader of ceremonies 
said that in prayers, as well as in all work with, rituals, the 
officiates should keep his attention fixed upon the desired 
end. 'Keep thinking of it all the time/ he advised." And 
then success would be certain. 



The first people, those are the ones that found the 
buffalo rock. Nearly starved were all the people. A man 
said to his wife, "Get some wood and build a fire." She 
said, "I am not strong enough; I am nearly starved." 
"Go on," said he, "there is no firewood here." Then 
she arose, saying, "I shall go after firewood." She came 
to a place where there was wood, and, standing beside 
it, picked it up slowly. Then she heard singing and 
looked around. At last she saw it. On the cut-bank's 
side she sat down. The thing doing the singing was the 
buffalo rock. The earth was sliding down: that is how 
she came to see it. While it was singing, the rock said: 

"Take me, 
I am powerful." 

On buffalo hair it was sitting for a bed. It stretched 
out its arms. In order that food might be obtained is 
the reason she saw it. She, took it up, wrapped it in the 
hair and put it inside her dress. Now she knew some 
food would be obtained. She went back to the camp. 
She went to her husband's lodge. She went inside. She 
said to her elder sister, "Tell our husband that I shall 
make medicine." So the elder one said to him, "My 
younger sister is about to make medicine." He said, 
"I have faith. Let her make medicine that we may have 
food." Then he called out, inviting the camp. All came 
to the lodge men, women and children all came in- 
side. "There is going to be medicine," he said. "Get 
some tallow," said he, "just a little," Then everyone 


looked for it. A long time they had to hunt before 
finding any. 

Then the woman rubbed the fat on the rock. It be- 
gan to sing when she did it. It sang to the woman: 

"Take me, 
I am powerful." 

The people all saw it. The woman passed it to them, 
and they kissed it. "You shall have food," she said. 
Then she began to sing and then to dance. All joined 
in the dancing. They made a noise like buffalo. The 
woman sang, "A hundred I shall lead over the drive." 
She said, "When you sing, do not say more than a hun- 
dred." Now a man said when he sang, "Over a hundred 
shall I lead over the drive." The woman said, "We 
have made a mistake now. So many will go over that 
the enclosure will burst; they will jump out of it. 
There will be a solitary bull wandering through the 
camp tonight. It will be a mangy bull. No one shall 
kill him. ... If that bull comes tonight, we shall all 
be saved. If this rock falls on its face, then you will all 
be happy. There will be plenty of food." All went out. 
They were happy, because they were to receive food. 
The woman slept where the smudge was made. That 
rock made her powerful. 

He came through the camp, the one she said was 
coming the mangy bull. They all knew him. They all 
said, "Ah a! don't kill him. Rub his back with fire- 
wood." In the morning all were happy because the 
mangy bull came at night. They did not kill him, the 
one that was said to come at night. When the woman 
looked out, that rock fell over on its face. Then she 
told them to be happy, because they would have some- 

thing to eat. Looking up, the people saw many buffalo 
close to the camp. Then the swift young men went out 
and led the buffalo, many of them. They worked them 
into the lines. They frightened them to make them 
run swiftly. Then all ran over into the enclosure. Now 
the people ran there. Inside were the buffalo. So many 
were there that the enclosure was broken. Over a hun- 
dred were there. That is why they broke down the 
fence. Not many of them were killed. All the buffalo 
were bulls. That is why they broke down the fence. 

The woman's husband took all the ribs and back- 
fat, saying, "With these shall a feast be made. Again 
my wife will make medicine." The people were some- 
what happy, the number of animals killed was small. 
"For a little while we are saved. We have a little 
meat," said the man. 

The next night it was called out again that the 
woman was to make medicine. This time she gave 
orders that only the women were to dance, so that cows 
might come to the drive. So the women danced. The 
men tried not to make another mistake. In the morn- 
ing they looked from the hill again. They were made 
glad by the rock falling again on its face. Again the 
young men went out. Now all in the enclosure were 
cows. They were all killed with arrows. None of them 
got out. The people were happy now. They had plenty 
of meat. Everyone now believed in the power of the 
rock. The woman who found the rock was respected 
by her husband. 

Clark Wissler, Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians, pp. 
87-9. Taken as a text by Dr. R. Lowie. 




Once a woman had twin children who Caintcd away. 
Possibly they only slept. Their mother left them in the 
morning; and when she returned in the evening, they 
were still lying there. She noticed their tracks around 
the house: therefore she thought they must come to 
life and play during her absence. One day she stole on 
them unseen and found them arguing with each other 
inside the lodge. One said, "It is much better to be 
dead." And the other said, "It is better to bo alive." 
When they saw her, they stopped talking, and since 
then people die from time to time. There are always 
some being born and some dying at the same time, 
always some living ones and some dead ones. Had she 
remained hidden and allowed them to finish their ar- 
gument, one would have prevailed over the other, and 
there would have been either no life or no death. 

James Teit in Franz Boas, cd., Folk-Tales of Salishan 
and Sahaptin Tribes, p. 1*5. 


My young men shall never work. Men who work 
cannot dream, and wisdom comes in dreams. 

You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife 
and tear my mother's breast? Then when I die she will 
not take me to her bosom to rest. 

You ask me to dig for stone. Shall I dig under her 
skin for bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her 
body to be born again. 

You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it, 
and be rich like white men. But how dare I cut off 
my mother's hair? 

It is a bad law, and my people cannot obey it. I 
want my people to stay with me here. All the dead 
men will come to life again. We must wait here in the 
house of our fathers and be ready to meet them in the 
body of our mother. 

See Herbert J. Spinden: The Nez Perct Indians, p. 261, 
and B. Alexander, Mythology of North America, p. 150. The 
Nez Perc6 Indians belong to the Sahaptin stock and cul- 
turally and geographically to the Great Basin area. Thus 
their culture was a composite of elements derived partly 
from the Plains, partly from the Pacific coast. Agriculture 
was absent before the coming of the white man. Various 
kinds of roots formed the staple of their diet. Their reli- 
gious concepts were of marked simplicity. No cosmogonic 
myths; little ceremonialism. The dream was the chief 
means of communication with the spiritual world. It was 
perhaps due to the paucity of their religious traditions 

that the Nez Percys first took eagerly to the teachings of 
the Christian missionaries. It is a much-quoted siory how 
they even delegated a group of chiefs to Saint Louis asking 
impatiently for ministers and the new powerful Book of the 
white man. However, it was a Nez Pcrc<i Smohalla who 
founded the Dreamer Religion, falling back on the native 
concepts, especially those of the benign Earthmother and 
the dream as the only vehicle of supernatural power. He 
opposed vigorously the inroads of the white man and his 
civilization, especially all attempts to introduce agriculture 
in his domain. He influenced later developments of the 
Ghost Dance elsewhere; this ceremony itself, however, never 
struck root among the Nez Percys. Sec Spinden, op. cit., pp. 




I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Look- 
ing Glass is dead. Toohulhulsote is dead. The old men 
are all dead. It is the young men who say no and yes. 
He who led the young men is dead. It is cold and we 
have no blankets. The little children are freezing to 
death. My people, some of them, have run away to the 
hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows 
where they are perhaps they are freezing to death. I 
want to have time to look for my children and see 
how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them 
among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired. My 
heart is sad and sick. From where the sun now stands 
I will fight no more forever. 

From Spinden, op. cit., p. 343. Oratory, says Dr. Spinden, 
was a highly developed art among the Nez Percys, "for on 
this depended much of the power and prestige of the chiefs. 
The rule of the council was unanimity, and this would be 
effected only by calm reasoning where facts were to be 
considered, and by impassioned appeal when the decision 
depended on sentiment. There was considerable use of ges- 
ticulation and a great display of dignity. Statements were 
concise and concrete." 


i. The Herald Rides around the Camp 

I wonder if everyone is up! It is morning. We are 
alive, so thanks bel Rise upl Look aboutl Go sec the 
horses, lest the wolf have killed onel Thanks be that 
the children are alive 1 And you, older men 1 and you, 
older womcnl also that your friends arc perhaps alive 
in other camps. But elsewhere there arc probably those 
who are ill this morning, and therefore the children 
are sad, and therefore their friends are sad. 

2. Speech before a War Dance 

People, lay everything aside, for now we are going 
to have a dance. Get out your finest clothes and put 
them on, and make ready for the dance. People, we 
shall see the garments of our dead men of long ago; 
so everyone must come, because another time we may 
not be living. . . . 

From Herbert J. Spinden in Franz Boas, cd., Folk'Tales 
of Salishan and Sahaptin Tribes, p. aoi. These arc two ex- 
amples of the more or less stereotyped pronouncements of 
the herald who rides around the village or the camp and 
gives the orders of the day. 



There were Cottontail Boy and his friend Snowshoe 
Rabbit. It was cold, very cold. Cottontail Boy lived by 
the river in its warmth, and there he would say, "I 
wonder what my friend Snowshoe Rabbit could be 
doing there far yonder where the gray coldness looms." 

But the Snowshoe Rabbit was saying the same, "I 
wonder what my friend Cottontail Boy could be doing 
there where the blue haze of warmth looms." 

One day they met. 

"So, my friend, we meet. Is it that you are in good 

"Eh 1 1 should be asked when you are the one! I used 
to think about you, 'What things could my friend be 
doing there where the blue haze of warmth looms?' " 

"Is that it? Well, I am just living very, very com- 
fortably," Cottontail Boy said to him. "Here I have 
such a good, very warm lodge under a beautiful over- 
hanging cliff. There I kick up a hackberry bush by 
the roots and I bring this home to burn. This now 
burns so well, and then I take root food over which I 
pour water and the water is absorbed instantly. I re- 
cline comfortably there now and eat very heartily, so 
heartily. But I thought of you often and I would say 
to myself, *What can my friend be doing there where 
the gray coldness looms?' " 

"Oh, I, too, live just comfortably from day to day," 
Snowshoe Rabbit told him. "I have a very comfortable 


living place. There is a big growth on a pine tree, and 
my home is there at the root. Here I may just kick 
apart fallen chunks of wood to burn. Oh, how this 
now burns coals and ashesl Then I take fatty dried 
meat and toast it somewhat to a red crispness. There 
I lean back and eat so heartily. . . ." 

"Yes, it seems that both of us are living very well." 
Then they said to each other, "Farewell, we will 
meet again sometime." 

From Archie Phinney, Nez Percl Texts, p. 3. The de- 
lightful stories of this volume were recorded on the Fort 
Lapwai Reservation and obtained from a sixty-year-old 
woman, Wayflatpu, the mother of the recorder. Humor, 
says Phinney in the Introduction, is undoubtedly the most 
vivid element in these Nez Perce" tales, and it permeates 
both the commonplace and the tragic. Myth and folktale 
of this Sahaptin tribe is, however, in the state of slow disin- 
tegration, due, as the collector of these stories says, to "a 
morbid reservation consciousness." The young Indian tries 
to forget the past, and the sense of humor, so characteristic 
of this folklore, gives way to the vulgar which is considered 
to be funny. 



Eternal are the heavens and the earth; 
Old people are poorly off. 
Do not be afraid. 

From Robert H. Lowie, The Religion of the Crow In- 
dians, p. 417. The Warrior Wants-to-die, whose possession 
the above song was, addressed a group of youths who were 
about to enter the warpath, like this: "When a woman gives 
birth, it takes her a long time and she does not know 
whether she will live or not. You have it easy, the camp is 
right here. Mount your horses and go, there is nothing to 
hold you back. When you get there, you will either be 
killed or will kill an enemy. Let me know how your heart 
is." And after he made up his mind to accompany diem, 
he added: "Let us all mount our horses. When I am old, 
I shall die. I will die at any time; I want to find out how 
it is. It is like going up over a divide." 




There were seven youths on this world. One of them 
was red-haired. They did not know whether they had 
any parents. They were having a hard time of it. 
"What shall we turn into?" ihey asked one another. 
One said, "Let us change into the earth." The one 
named the Wise-one (Kslbe) said, "No, verily the earth 
is mortal, it gets caved in." Then another one said, 
"Let us become rocks." "No, they are destructible, they 
all break asunder." A third one said, "We must change 
into big trees, into very big ones." "No, they are per- 
ishable, when there is a storm they are blown down." 
Again one o them said, "Let us change into water." 
"No, it is destructible, it dries up completely." The 
fifth said, "Let us change into the night." "No, the 
night is fleeting, soon the light appears again." The 
sixth boy said, "Let us be the day." "No, it is fleeting, 
when the sun disappears, it is dark once more." The 
Wise-one said, "The blue sky above is never dead, it 
is always in existence. Shining things live there. Such 
we shall change into. In that region let us dwell." 

Well, so they do. The smallest of them took them 
up, hoisting them by means of his spider web. He set 
three on one side and three on the other, seating him- 
self in the middle. When the last one had gotten up, 
he tore the web in the middle, threw it down, and 
gave it to the spider. 

From Robert H. Lowie, The Assiniboine, p. 177, 



Spirits of our dead relatives, I make this feast for 
you to call you all around me. I smoke this tobacco 
which has been inclosed with your hair; be near us 
and hear. 

My friends are around me, and you are called to 
the feast. Call on all the spirits of our dead friends to 
aid in giving us what we ask. 

Make the buffalo come near and the clouds and 
wind fair to approach them, that we may always have 
meat in camp to feed us and you. Help us in every 
way; let our children live. Let us live. Call on all these 
spirits and ask them to assist you in helping us. 

If we hunt, be with us. If we go to war, be with us. 
Enable us to revenge some of your deaths upon our 
enemies. They have killed you; they have brought our 
hearts low. Bring their hearts low also. Let us blacken 
our faces. Keep us from harm, rest quiet, we will not 
cease to cry for and remember you. You are remem- 
bered in this feast, eat some of it [here small bits are 
scattered around]. This to you, my father. This for 
you, my grandfather, my uncle, my brother. The rela- 
tives of all present eat, rest in quiet, do not let disease 
trouble us. 

We eat for you, we cry for you, we cut ourselves 
for you. 

From Edwin T. Denig, Indian Tribes of the Upper Mis- 
souri, p. 384. The Assiniboine are a typical Plains tribe, 


living in the region northwest of the great bend of the Mis- 
souri. Predatory warfare, buffalo hunting and, in later days, 
horse raiding, were those occupations by which a man, if 
he carried them on with success, acquired status within his 
group. However, a man participated in any of these activi- 
ties only if a favorable dream or vision and the unmistak- 
ably demonstrated good will of his tutelaries, or the spirits 
of the dead, promised success. 




Wakonda, you see me a poor man. 
Have pity on me. 

1 go to war to revenge the death of my brother. 
Have pity upon me. 

I smoke this tobacco taken from my medicine sack, 
where it has been enveloped with the remains of my 
dead brother [a lock of his hair]. I smoke it to my 
tutelary, to you; aid me in revenge. 

On my path preserve me from mad wolves. 

Let no enemies surprise me. 

I have sacrificed, I have smoked, my heart is low, 
have pity upon me. Give me the bows and arrows of 
my enemies. Give me their guns. Give me their horses. 
Give me their bodies. Let me have my face blackened 
on my return. Let good weather come that I can see. 
Good dreams give that I can judge where they are. I 
have suffered. I wish to live. I wish to be revenged. I 
am poor. I want horses. I will sacrifice. I will smoke. 
I will remember. Have pity on me. 

From Edwin T. Denig, Indian Tribes of the Upper Mis- 
souri, pp. 483-4. Denig wrote his report about 1854. 




Way beyond, a part of the Osage lived in the sky. 
They desired to know their origin, the source from 
which they came into existence. They went to the sun. 
He told them that they were his children. Then they 
wandered still farther and came to the moon. She 
told them that she gave birth to them, and that the 
sun was their father. She told them that they must 
leave their present abode and go down to die earth 
and dwell there. They came to the earth, but found it 
covered with water. They could not return to the place 
they had left, so they wept, but no answer came to 
them from anywhere. They floated about in the air, 
seeking in every direction for help from some god; but 
they found none. The animals were with them, and 
of all these the elk was the finest and most stately, and 
inspired all the creatures with confidence; so they ap- 
pealed to the elk for help. He dropped into the water 
and began to sink. Then he called to die winds, and 
the winds came from all quarters and blew until the 
waters went upward as in a mist. 

At first rocks only were exposed, and the people 
traveled on the rocky places that produced no plants, 
and there was nothing to eat. Then the waters began 
to go down until the soft earth was exposed. When 
this happened, the elk in his joy rolled over and over 
on the soft earth, and all his loose hairs clung to the 
soil. The hairs grew, and from them sprang beans, 


corns, potatoes, and wild turnips, and then all the 
grasses and trees. 

From Alice Fletcher and Francis LaFle"che, The Omaha 
Tribe, p. 63, 




of the Symbolic Painting 

With what shall they adorn their bodies, as they tread 
the path of life? it has been said, in this house. 

The crimson color of the God of Day who sittcth in 

the heavens, 
They shall make to be their sacred color as they go 

forth upon life's journey. 

Verily, the God who reddens the heavens as he 

They shall make to be their sacred color, as they go 

forth on life's journey. 

When they adorn their bodies with the crimson hue 

shed by that God of Day, 

Then shall the little ones make themselves to be free 
From all causes of death, as they go forth on life's 


What shall the people use for a symbolic plume? 
They said to one another, it has been said, in this 

Verily, the God who always comes out at the beginning 

of day, 

Has at his right side 

A beam of light that stands upright like a plume. 
That beam of light shall the people make to be their 
sacred plume. 


What shall they place as a pendant upon his breast? 

They said to one another. 

The shell of the mussel who sitteth upon the earth, 

They shall place as a pendant upon his breast. 

It is as the God of Day who sitteth in the heavens, 

Close to his breast they shall verily press this god, 

As a -pendant upon. his breast they shall, place this god. 

Then stall the little ones become free from all causes 
Of death, as they go forth upon life's journey. 

From Iiancis LaFlesche, The Osage Tribe: The Rite of 
Vigil, p. f$. This Rite of Vigil was performed in times of 
distress in order tp bring the people in close touch with the 
Supernatural Power. This rite can be observed as well col- 
lectively %& individually. At any time during the summer 
when nature "is fully awake and active" the man stricken 
with grief by the loss o some beloved person may take 
upon himself this rite in seeking pity from die Mysterious 
Power. The Osage Indian, whose life is replete with sun- 
symbolisaoa, experiences the sun as the visible manifestation 
of the Highest Power; above all, he glorifies the regularity 
of the movements of the "God of Day." 




Amid the earth, renewed in verdure, 

Amid rising smoke, my grandfather's footprints 

I see, as from place to place I wander, 

The rising smoke I see as I wander. 

Amid all forms visible, the rising smoke 

I see, as I move from place to place. 

Amid all forms visible, the little hills in rows 
I see, as I move from place to place. 

Amid all forms visible, the spreading blades 
I see as I move from place to place. 

Amid all forms visible, the light day 
I see as I move from place to place. 

From Francis LaFle'sche, The Osage Tribe, pp. 634-5. 
It is the spirits of the dead who are speaking in this song. It 
is they who see first the joyful signs of the awakening of 
the earth from the long spell of winter. In the smoke that 
rises in the early morning from the fields where the women 
are planting the precious maize seeds, they sense, amid the 
secret processes of growing and ripening, the presence of a 
divine power: the mysterious footprints in the soft earth, 
what else do they intimate than the path of the Mysterious 
Ones who crossed the fields to urge onward the growing 
corn to maturity? 



(Shrine Ritual) 


[The cry of longing and desolation uttered by the 
weaver in the following song is for her relatives who 
had gone on to the spirit land and who had been close 
companions in the joys and griefs of life.] 

You have left me to linger in hopeless longing, 
Your presence had ever made me feel no want, 
You have left me to travel in sorrow. 
Left me to travel in sorrow; Ahl the pain, 
Left me to travel in sorrow; Ahl the pain, the pain, 
the pain. 

You have left me to linger in hopeless longing, 
In your presence there was no sorrow, 
You have gone and sorrow I shall feel, as I travel, 
Ah! the pain, the pain. 

You have gone and sorrow I shall feel as I travel, 
You have left me in hopeless longing. 
In your presence there was no sorrow, 
You have gone and sorrow I shall feel as I travel; 
Ah! the pain, the pain, the pain. 

Content with your presence, I wanted nothing more, 
You have left me to travel in sorrow; Ah! the pain, 
the pain, the painJ 

From ibid., p. 697. 




Behold, I go forth to move around the earth, 
Behold, I go forth to move around the earth, 
I go forth as the puma that Is great in courage. 
To move onward I go forth, 
I go forth as the puma that is great in courage. 
Behold, I go forth to move around the earth. 

Hon'ga and Wa-zha'zhe, 

Verily, I am a person who has made a god to be his 

The god of night, 

1 have made to be my body, 

Therefore I am difficult to be overcome by death. 
O, Hon'ga and Wa-zha'zhe, 
Jf you also make that god to be your body, 
You also shall be free from all causes of death. 

Behold, I go forth to move around the earth, 
Behold, I go forth to move around the earth, 
I go forth as the great black bear that is great in courage. 
To move onward I go forth, 

I go forth as the great black bear that is great in courage. 
Behold, I go forth to move around the earth. 

From Francis LaFIesche, The War Ceremony of the 
Osage Indians, pp. 123-4. The Mourning rite had its origin 
in the vision of an individual mourner: while wandering 
about out in the solitude of the uninhabited prairie, wail- 
ing and fasting, the relative for whom he was mourning 
appeared, asking him to slay an enemy whose spirit could 
accompany him to the land of the setting sun, for the 
journey to this country was long and lonely and fearsome. 
Ever since, when a death had occurred among the Osage, 
a war party was sent out to retrieve a scalp of an enemy 
whose soul was supposed to accompany the spirit on his 
last journey. A wi'gi-e is a recitative, relating part of a 
mythical story. 


From the War Ceremony 


You speak to me o dangers that I may fear, 
But I have willed to go, my friends. 
Waxada-iu's crying stirs my wrath, 
I go forth to strike, even Wa-kon~da f should 

He oppose me. 

You speak to me of dangers that I may fear. 
But I have willed to go, my friends. 

From ibid., p. 31. The Wa-shdbe A-thin, or War Cere- 
mony, was performed when the aggressions of the enemy 
became intolerable, and at the same time there was a feel- 
ing of indifference among the warriors toward the taking of 
retaliatory measures (p. 4). By way of elaborate ceremonies 
the Leader aimed at exciting enthusiasm among the young 




I stood there, I stood there, 

The clouds are speaking. 

I say, "You are the ruling power, 

I do not understand, I only know what I am told, 

You are the ruling power, you are now speaking, 

This power is yours, O heavens." 

It is there that our hearts are set, 
In the expanse of the heavens. 

From Frances Densmore, Pawnee Music, pp. 88, 90. Be- 
fore recording the first song Frances Densmore's informant 
spoke the following sentences, accompanying the words 
with slow drum beats: "The song which I am about to sing 
belonged to Man Chief. When he became chief he used 
to go out into the storm. ... He heard Tirawa speak 
through the clouds. He knew the heavens were the ruling 
power, and he prayed for his people." 




A man was roaming over the prairie. He came to 
a place where people had camped and there he heard 
a woman crying. The man went to the place where 
the crying came from, but there was no one there, and 
he did not know what to think. When he went home 
he lay down, and in the night he had a dream. He 
dreamed that he saw a woman. The woman spoke to 
him and said: 

"I stay where the crying came from, and I was glad 
that you hunted me and tried to find me. I am going 
to help you to find me, and also let you see me. As 
soon as the sun goes down and it becomes a little dark, 
I want you to go to the place where you heard the 
crying. I will be there, and there you shall sec me and 
I will tell you some things that you do not know." 

"When the man awoke he thought of the woman he 
was to see that evening, and so he watched and looked 
over the country until the sun went down. He watched 
the women passing through the village, and as soon 
as the sun disappeared and it became a little dark he 
went to the place where he had heard the crying. As 
soon as he arrived at this place, instead of hearing 
the crying he saw a woman. The woman spoke to the 
man and said: "Look, look at me, for I am the one 
who was crying at this place." The man looked at 
the woman and he saw that she was a fine-looking 
woman. She said again: "Young man, when the people 
passed over this place while hunting buffalo they 

dropped me. I have been crying ever since." . . . Then 
the woman said: "Look upon the ground where my 
feet rest." The man looked and there he saw a kernel 
of corn. This kernel of corn was speckled. "Now," said 
the woman, "pick up this kernel of corn and keep me 
always with you. My spirit is of Mother-Evening-Star, 
who gives us the milk that is in the corn. The people 
eat of us and have life. The women give the same milk 
from their breast. Keep me in your quiver and my 
spirit will always be with you." 

The man took the kernel up and the woman disap- 
peared. The man went home and kept the kernel close 
to him all the time. . . . He put the kernel of corn 
into a bundle and the bundle became a sacred bundle. 
. . . The young man became a great warrior. Once he 
said: "In the tribe is a nice-looking girl whom I like." 
The Corn- Woman spoke to him in a dream and said: 
"I do not want you to marry for two seasons. When 
you have received my spirit and you understand me, 
then you shall marry. You must tell your mother to 
place me in a large hill of earth. When a stalk grows 
from the hill and you find corn upon the stalk do not 
eat it, but lay it away. Then the next spring tell your 
mother to plant some more corn and the next fall 
there will be a good crop and you will see how the 
corn has multiplied." The young man did as he was 
told. As the spring came the mother placed the kernel 
in a big hill of earth. And a stalk grew out of this hill 
with many kernels upon it. These she laid away until 
the next spring. Then she planted much more corn. 

About that time the young man married. The young 
man and his wife had many children, and their chil- 
dren had children. When Corn-Woman disappeared 

she told the man to tell his people, -when they were 
ready to plant corn, to pray first to Mother-Corn and 
then to Mother-Earth. "When you have placed the 
corn in the earth then stand to the west and pray to 
Mother-Evening-Star to send rain upon the earth so 
that the corn will grow. Pray also to Mother-Moon, 
who helps give life to people, and she will listen to 
what people say. Never drop a kernel upon the ground, 
for Mother-Corn will curse you and your life will be 

Corn-Woman also told the young man that when 
the cornfields were high, all the people were to take 
their children into the fields and to pass their hands 
over the stalks and then over the children. Thus the 
children would grow, and bad diseases would go away 
from them. Corn- Woman also said: "When the tassels 
are out, then watch. There will be singing in the fields. 
Know that that singing comes from the sacred ear of 
the corn. Take it from the stalk, and take it to the old 
man, who will place it in the sacred bundle so that 
people will know that Mother-Corn did sing to her 
people." The Pawnee worship Mother-Corn because 
she represents Mother-Evening-Star. 

From George A. Dorsey, The Pawnee Mythology, pp. 58- 
6x. A few lines have been omitted. 

1 08 



Let us see, is this real, 

Let us see, is this real, 

This life I am living? 

Ye Gods, who dwell everywhere, 

Let us see, is this real, 

This life I am living? 

From Daniel G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, p. 
stgst. This is, says Brinton, a war song with a curious meta- 
physical turn. It is sung when a warrior goes out all alone 
on the warpath from which it is likely he will never return. 




A long time ago there were no horses. Dogs were the 
only animals that helped the people carry the burdens. 
In those times there was a very poor boy in the vil- 
lage. He went from one tepee to another trying to get 
something to eat. Sometimes he was chased out, but at 
other times he was taken in and fed. 

Once in a great while he would go into the lodge 
of the chief, and when the chief would see him he 
would feel sorry for him and sometimes he would give 
him moccasins; at other times he would give him leg- 
gings. Some people would speak against the boy and 
try to keep the chief from giving him any presents, but 
the chief would say: "Tirawa knows that this boy is 
living. As he is growing up he will watch over him and 
the boy may some day rule over us." But the people 
laughed at the chief for saying that. 

The boy had a dream about ponies. He thought that 
two ponies were dropped down from the heavens and 
that they were for him. He so plainly saw the ponies 
in his dream that he knew their shape, and how their 
tails and manes looked. Often when the people broke 
camp and traveled along he would stay belli nd and 
would take mud and make ponies. Then he would 
place the ponies in his robe and follow the people. 
Before he would arrive at the village he would place 
the two mud ponies outside of the village. Early in 
the morning he would go to where his mud ponies 
were. Then he would take the mud ponies down to 

the creek and pretend that they were drinking. He did 
this for many months, until the people had returned 
to their permanent village. Then he took the mud 
ponies and carried them a long way from the village 
and stood them by a pond. He would go away and 
stay for a while and then return and make believe the 
ponies needed water. Then he would take them to 
where there was good grass and place them there. 

One night the boy had a dream. He thought that 
Tirawa had opened the sky and dropped two ponies 
for him. Then he thought in his dream that he heard 
Tirawa singing and he remembered well the song, 
for when he awoke he went out from the lodge 
and went up on a high hill, and there he sang the 
song. The people heard him singing and they won- 
dered what that song meant. While the boy was sing- 
ing, a mysterious voice said: "This song was given to 
you by Tirawa. Tirawa has given you a dance. You 
shall become a chief. Go this night to where your mud 
ponies are and there you will find two live ponies." 
The boy ran. When he arrived there he saw two po- 
nies. The two ponies came to the boy and he caught 
both of them. The people went out to see the ponies 
and almost worshipped them, for they were the first 
they had ever seen. 

From G. A. Dorsey, The Pawnee Mythology, p. 123. 


Told by Cheyenne-Chief 

There was a village, and among the people was a 
man who had a beautiful wife. He thought much of 
her and spent his time in hunting game, so that they 
might have plenty to eat. 

After a time they had a son, who grew up. When he 
was about twelve years old his mother died. Then the 
man took good care of the boy, for he was his only 
son. The boy became sick and died. 

The man did not know what to do, whether to kill 
himself or to wander over the country. He decided to 
wander over the country. He mourned four days at 
the grave of his son; now he was to roam over the 
country. He went many days, and after a while he 
came to some timbered country. He went through it. 
He had his quiver filled with arrows and a bow. While 
in this timber he heard people talk in his language, 
and he stopped. . , . One came to him and said: "What 
a wonderful tree! All of you come! I have found a 
wonderful tree. It looks like a man." The man stood 
still, and the others came and said: "Truly this is a 
wonderful tree. Look, it has eyes, nose, and hair! Look, 
here is a quiver and bow." At this saying the man 
shrieked, and said: "I thought you were all deadl 
Here you are wandering over the country." As soon as 
he spoke they ran away. He could hear some of them 
say, "He has caught me!" Another would say, "He has 
caught my foot," when the creature was caught by 

briers and grapevines. They ran a long way, then they 
stopped; and they began to tell how narrowly they 
had escaped from the man. 

While they were talking, the man came upon them 
again, and away they went. The man followed them 
up. This time they disappeared on the side of a hill, 
and, as it was now late in the day, the man made up 
his mind to follow and to try and stand with them. 
He thought, as he was wandering, "Why not remain 
with these people?" He got to the place where they 
had disappeared, and under a thick grapevine found 
an entrance large enough for a man to crawl in; there, 
far within, was a cave. He knew the leader. He had 
carried the sacred bundle and had led the war party; 
but he now saw them and knew they were lost; that 
they had been attacked by the enemy, and that they 
had been scalped. He sat there looking at them. They 
were talking about him. The man did not go entirely 
inside, for he himself was afraid. While they were 
talking, someone shrieked, "There he isl" and they 
would pile themselves one on top of another. . . . 

The leader, who was sitting under the bundle, said: 
"Boys, keep quietl This man is of our people. Get up 
and make a fire, and we will hear what he has to say." 
Fire was made, and each took his place where he be- 
longed in the circle. And then the leader asked him 
what brought him there. 

"Nava," said the man, "I lost my wife. We had a 
son and he died, too. I was left all alone. I have 
mourned for him a long time, longing for death, so 
that I might join my wife and son. I wandered from 
home until I came here. I am here, and I am glad I 


can now make my home with you, my brothers; for 
I do not care to be with my people any more." 

The leader spoke and said: "It is good, but we can- 
not let you live with us. We are dead. What you see 
are spirits. We should have gone to the Spirit Land 
but for this bundle which you see. It belongs to our 
people, and Tirawa released our spirits, so that we 
could wander back and return the bundle. Brother, 
I am glad you came to us. We will teach you the cere- 
mony of this bundle; then take it home, and let our 
people know that the bundle is again found." 

The man sat a long time, for he knew that to accept 
what this man said was to become a power among his 
people and be a leader. But at last he spoke and said: 
"My people, I am poor in heart. I cannot accept what 
my brother has offered, for I am never to return to 
my people. If I cannot see my son I am ready to die." 
Here he stood up and continued: "My brothers, take 
pity on me; take me with you to Spirit Land that I 
can see my boy. I cannot take the bundle to my peo- 
ple, for I am not happy." He passed his hands over 
the leader's head and on down the arms. "Take pity 
on me," he said once more. 

The leader sat with downcast head. Then he stood 
up, took down the bundle, took out sweet grass and 
put it in the fire, then opened the bundle. He looked 
at all the things in the bundle; he took them outside, 
so that the gods who gave them might look at them. 
Then he said: "My brothers, I must help this man to 
remain here. I will go to the gods in the west, who 
will receive this man's words. I pity him. I think the 
gods will pity him. I go." 

He disappeared. The others watched and watched. 

At last they heard the wind descend. The leader had 
come back. He went to the bundle, took out native 
tobacco and burnt it, offering it to the gods. Then he 
spoke: "My son, the gods in the west have received 
your words. All the gods sent their words to Tirawa, 
and Tirawa has given his consent for the people in 
Spirit Land to come and see the living. They are to 
camp with them four days and four nights, without 
speaking one to another. You are to be allowed to be 
near your son and to speak with him, but not to touch 
him. . . . Those who wish to remain with their rela- 
tives as well as those who wish to go to Spirit Land 
will be permitted to do so. Now, my son, go. Get your 
people. Let them come and make their camp in the 

So the man left that same night. He noticed that he 
was very swift. Why, he could not understand. Finally 
he reached the village. A crier was called and told to 
go through the camp and let the people know that 
they were wanted at a certain place; that they were to 
meet their dead friends. 

Thfi next day they broke camp and went south. For 
a long time they traveled, until finally they came to a 
timbered country. Here they pitched their camp. The 
man went to the camp of the spirits. He was told that 
the dead people were also on the way, and that the 
next morning they would arrive. The man went to the 
camp, and notified the crier to go quietly and tell the 
people to be ready to see their friends. Some mocked 
and others believed. . . . 

The next day people began to make preparations to 
meet their dead friends. Medicine ointment was put 
upon their heads, faces, and hands. Some time in the 

afternoon they saw a great dust which reached the 
heavens. People began to get frightened; others re- 
joiced, for they were again to see their dead friends. 
People rejoiced with song. Then the spirits began to 
pass through. As they passed, the people saw their dead 
friends, but they did not dare to touch or speak to 
them. As they kept up the marching, the man's son 
came. He caught his son. Now he was told . . . not 
to speak [touch?] to him. ... He did not do this, for 
as soon as he caught his son he spoke to him and 
hugged him, and in his heart he said: "I will not let 
you goi" 

As soon as this was done the spirits went off. The 
other spirits also disappeared. The man went away 
broken-hearted. The people returned home, and the 
man never came back. The people said: "He is with 
the scalped men." But afterwards he was seen, and had 
over him a horse robe. He was wild, did not seem to 
care to be with his people. So he was forgotten; for 
had he not caught his son, then the spirits and the 
people were to have lived once more together, and 
death was to have been unknown. 

From George A. Dorsey, Traditions of the Skidi Pawnee, 
PP- 74-8- A few lines have been omitted. 


In the beginning of this world there was no such 
thing as death. Everyone continued to live until there 
were so many people that there was no room for any 
more on the earth. The chiefs held a council to deter- 
mine what to do. One man arose and said that he 
thought it would be a good plan to have the people 
die and be gone for a little while, and then to return. 
As soon as he sat down Coyote jumped up and said 
that he thought that people ought to die forever, for 
this little world was not large enough to hold all of 
the people, and if the people who died came back to 
life, there would not be food enough for alL All of 
the other men objected, saying that they did not want 
their friends and relatives to die and be gone forever* 
for then people would grieve and worry and there 
would not be any happiness in the world. All except 
Coyote decided to have the people die and be gone 
for a little while, and then to come back to life again. 

The medicine men built a large grass house facing 
the east, and when they had completed it they called 
the men of the tribe together and told them that they 
had decided to have the people who died come to the 
medicine house and there be restored to life. The chief 
medicine man said they would sing a song that would 
call the spirit of the dead to the grass house, and when 
the spirit came they would . . . restore it to life again. 
All of the people were glad, for they were anxious for 

the dead to be restored to life and come again and 
live with them. 

After a time when the first man had died the me- 
dicine men assembled in the grass house and sang. In 
about ten days a whirlwind blew from the west and 
circled about the grass house. Coyote saw it. And as 
the whirlwind was about to enter the house, he closed 
the door. The spirit in the whirlwind, finding the door 
closed, whirled on by. Death forever was then intro- 
duced, and people from that time on grieved about 
the dead and were unhappy. 

Now whenever anyone meets a whirlwind or hears 
the wind whistle he says: "There is someone wander- 
ing about." Ever since Coyote closed the door, the 
spirits of the dead have wandered over the earth, try- 
ing to find some place to go, until at last they find the 
road to Spirit Land. 

Coyote jumped up and ran away and never came 
back, for when he saw what he had done he was afraid. 
Ever after that he ran from one place to another, al- 
ways looking back first over one shoulder and then 
over the other, to see if anyone was pursuing him, and 
ever since then he has been starving, for no one will 
give him anything to eat. 

From George A. Dorsey, The Traditions of the Caddo, 
pp. 15-16. 

The Coyote plays a conspicuous part in die stories of 
creation and transformation of the North American Indian. 
The Coyote is the prairie wolf, a small, greedy and cowardly 
animal. He is mostly represented as the sly and deceitful 
trickster who is always about to thwart the plans of the 
benevolent but by no means all-powerful creator god. At 

times he merely imitates in a ridiculous way the works of 
the Maker or die culture hero. And yet, with all this, he 
not seldom is shown as the culture hero himself, as the 
powerful magician who not only destroys but also brings 
about order in this chaotic world. With all his mean selfish- 
ness he displays at times an astonishing amount of cleverness 
and sound judgment. Coyote tales are at home in the west- 
ern part of the northern continent. His eastern counterpart 
is the Great Hare. 


(TETON Sioux) 

[Siyaka' speaks:] 

All classes of people know that when human power 
fails they must look to a higher power for the fulfill- 
ment of their desires. There are many ways in which 
the request for help from this higher power can be 
made. This depends on the person. Some like to be 
quiet, and others want to do everything in public. 
Some like to go alone, away from the crowd, to medi- 
tate upon many things. In order to secure a fulfillment 
of his desire a man must qualify himself to make his 
request. Lack of preparation would mean failure to 
secure a response to his petition. Therefore when a 
man makes up his mind to ask a favor of Wakan'tanka 
he makes due preparation. It is not fitting that a man 
should suddenly go out and make a request of Wa- 
kan'tanka. When a man shuts his eyes, he sees a great 
deal. He then enters his own mind, and things be- 
come clear to him, but objects passing before his eyes 
would distract him. . - . [So] he resolves to seek seclu- 
sion on the top of a butte or other high place. No 
man can succeed in life alone, and he cannot get the 
help he wants from men; therefore he seeks help 
through some bird or animal which Wakan'tanka 
sends for his assistance. 

From Frances Densmore, Teton Sioux Music, p. 184. 

(TETON Sioux) 

At night may I roam 
Against the winds may I roam 
At night may I roam 
"When the owl is hooting 
May I roam. 

At dawn may I roam 
Against the winds may I roam 
At dawn may I roam 
When the crow is calling 
May I roam. 

Where the wind is blowing 
The wind is roaring 
I stand. 

Westward the wind is blowing 
The wind is roaring- 

From ibid., p. 186. Dream songs are the most precious 
spiritual possession of the individual, received by the vi- 
sion-seeking youth, after much suffering and loneliness, in 
a dxeanx. The obligation of a dream, says Miss Densmore, 
was as binding as the necessity of fulfilling a vow. That the 
wished-for dream would correspond to the character of the 

man was recognized by the Sioux. The nature of the dream 
allied the man to others who had similar dreams. "If the 
dreams were connected with the sacred stones, or with herbs 
concerned in the treatment of the sick, it was considered 
obligatory that the man avail himself of the supernatural 
help vouchsafed to him in the dream, and arrange his life 
in accordance with it." p. 157. 




A voice I am going to send, 

Hear me I 

All over the universe 

A voice I am going to send, 

Hear me, 


I -will live I 

I have said it. 

(TETON Sioux) 

When I pray to him 
Hears me. 

Whatever is good he 
Grants me. 

From ibid., pp. 131, 140. 



(TETON Sioux) 

j. War Song 

You aed. 
Even the eagle dies. 

2, Council Song 


With all manners of difficulties 

I have been pursued. 

These I fear not. 


Alive I am. 

From ibid., pp. 394, 449. 


(TETON Sioux) 

Friends, behold! 

Sacred I have been made. 

Friends, beholdl 

In a sacred manner 

I have been influenced 

At the gathering of the clouds. 

Sacred I have been made, 

Friends, beholdl 

Sacred I have been made. 

From ibid., p. 165. 



(TETON Sioux) 

A wolf 

I considered myself, 

But the owls are hooting 

And the night 

I fear. 


(TETON Sioux) 

A warrior 

I have been. 


It is all over. 

A hard rime 

I have. 

From ibid., p. 459. Sitting Bull sang this, his last song, 
after he had surrendered to the United States authorities, 
some time after the Custer massacre. 




As a child I understood how to give; I have forgot- 
ten this grace since I became civilized. I lived the nat- 
ural life, whereas I now live the artificial. Any pretty 
pebble was valuable to me then; every growing tree 
an object of reverence. Now I worship with the white 
man before a painted landscape whose value is esti- 
mated in dollars! Thus the Indian is reconstructed, 
as the natural rocks are ground to powder and made 
into artificial blocks which may be built into the walls 
of modern society. 

The first American mingled with his pride a singu- 
lar humility. Spiritual arrogance was foreign to his 
nature and teaching. He never claimed that the power 
of articulate speech was proof of superiority over the 
dumb creation; on the other hand, it is to him a per- 
ilous gift. He believes piofoundly in silence the sign 
of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise 
or balance of body, mind, and spirit. The man who 
preserves his selfhood is ever calm and unshaken by 
the storms of existence not a leaf, as it were, astir on 
the tree; not a ripple upon the surface of the shining 
pool his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the 
ideal attitude and conduct of life. 

If you ask him: "What is silence?" he will answer: 
"It is the Great Mystery!" "The holy silence is His 
voice!" If you ask: "What are the fruits of silence?" 
he will say: "They are self-control, true courage or 
endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence. Silence is 
the cornerstone of character." 


"Guard your tongue in youth," said the old chief, 
Wabashaw, "and in age you may mature a thought 
that will be of service to your peoplel" 

From Charles Alexander Eastman, The Soul of the In- 
dian. Eastman (Ohiyesa) was born near Redwood Falls, 
Minnesota, in 1858. His father was a full-blooded Sioux, his 
mother the daughter of an army officer, granddaughter of a 
famous Sioux chief. As a boy he lived still the free nomadic 
life of the Sioux; later, however, he took up the ways of the 
white man, went to college, graduated 1887 at Dartmouth 
College, N. H., whereupon he took a medical course at Bos- 
ton University. 




There was a big hill, a butte, where years ago a war 
party was held at bay till all the members died; and 
none escaped, they say. And it was there that the peo- 
ple stopped, on a journey, and stood looking for a 
suitable place to make camp, when this, which I am 
about to relate, took place. 

At the foot of that butte there was already a camp; 
and this group came to it and stopped, when a woman, 
her shawl pulled up over her head, started to sing: 

"There was a man I loved, alas! 
Can it be that I shall see him again, 
My own?" 

With such words she stood on the hilltop, singing. 
As the tribe fixed their attention singly on her, she 
started taking dancing steps backwards, and allowed 
herself to fall headlong over the cliff, landing, all 
bruised and broken, among the rocks below. She was 
dead. So they took up her body and carried it to her 
tepee, but her husband, evidently jealous, did not so 
much as weep a tear; but said, instead: "No, do not 
bring her here. Take her back, she has announced that 
she loved him; so let her rot with him!" So they could 
not enter her tepee with her body. Instead they took 
it back and left it where she fell. And they came away. 
So, there with him, who from all appearances was her 
lover, she mingled her bones, and they together in time 
became as dust, just as she desired in her song. 

Then a crier went around announcing a removal o 


the camp. It was according to the magistrate's decision. 
They said: "There is no other way; we cannot stay 
here. We must move from this spot where such a foul 
deed has taken place." So, in spite of the fact that 
camp had just been made, they all packed in haste 
and moved away that same evening. 

From Ella Deloria, Dakota Texts, p. 261. Ella Deloria is 
a Teton, trained by Franz Boas to take down the stories of 
her own people. 

Suicide is not uncommon among several Indian tribes. 
Frustration in love is the main motive. Incest tabus, making 
marriage between two parallel cousins impossible, led not 
infrequently to joint suicide, even among the more primi- 
tive tribes such as the Shoshoneans of the Great Basin. 
However, suicide was not always considered a disgrace to 
the group, but was rather treated like any other form of 


This I burn as an offering. 

Behold it! 

A sacred praise I am making. 

A sacred praise I am making. 

My nation, behold it in kindnessl 

The day of the sun has been my strength. 

The path of the moon shall be my robe. 

A sacred praise I am making. 

A sacred praise I am making. 

From John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks, the Life Story 
of an Oglala Sioux. The outstanding feature of the Heyoka 
ceremony is that it is made up by funny actions. This is 
what the medicine man Black Elk tells about this ceremony: 
"When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the 
west, it comes with terror like a thundei storm; but when 
the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and 
happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the 
world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after 
the terror of the storm. But in the Heyoko ceremony, every- 
thing is backwards, and it is planned that the people shall 
feel jolly and happy first, so that it may be easier for Che 
power to come to them. You have noticed that the trudr. 
comes into the world with two faces. One is sad with suf- 
fering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laugh- 
ing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe 
the laughing face is better for diem. . . ." p. 198. 




I shall vanish and be no more, 
But the land over which I now roam 
Shall remain 
And change not. 

object in establishing the Hethiishka society was "to stimu- 
late an heroic spirit among the people and to keep alive 
the memory of historic and valorous acts. ... It was a rule 
of the society that when a member performed a brave deed 
the society was the authority to decide whether the name of 
the doer and the record of his deed should be preserved in 
song." The Omaha informant explained the above song in 
the following manner: "The natural fear of death that is 
in every individual sometimes so overpowers a man that in 
the time of danger he may lose self-control and abandon to 
then 1 fate those whom he is in duty bound to protect. To 
drive away the fear of death . . . the members were per- 
sistently taught that man's life is transitory, and being so 
it is useless to harbor the fear of death, for death must come 
sooner or later to everybody; man and all living creatures 
come into existence, pass on and are gone, while the moun- 
tains and the rivers remain ever the same these alone of all 
visible things abide unchanged." p. 475. 




No one has found a way to avoid death, 

To pass around it; 

Those old men who have met it, 

Who have reached the place where death stands 


Have not pointed out a way to circumvent it. 
Death is difficult to face. 

From tbid.f p. 431. 





here needy he stands, 

and I am he. 

From Alice Fletcher, Indian Story and Song, p. 26. The 
tribal prayer, says Alice Fletcher, was called in the Omaha 
tongue Wa-kon'da gikon: Wa-korida f the power which can 
bring to pass; gikon, to weep from conscious insufficiency, 
or the longing for something that could bring happiness or 



From. The Autobiography of Black Hawk, dictated by 
himself to Antoine LeClair, 1833. 

Soon after our return home, news reached us that a 
war was going to take place between the British and 
the Americans. 

Runners continued to arrive from different tribes, 
all confirming the reports of the expected war. The 
British agent, Colonel Dixon, was holding talks with, 
and making presents to, the different tribes. I had not 
made up my mind whether to join the British or re- 
main neutral. I had not discovered yet one good trait 
in the character of the Americans who had come to 
the country. They made fair promises but never ful- 
filled them, while the British made but few, and we 
could always rely implicitly on their word. 

One of our people having killed a Frenchman at 
Prairie du Chien, the British took him prisoner and 
said they would shoot him next day. His family were 
encamped a short distance below the mouth of the 
Wisconsin. He begged for permission to go and see 
them that night as he was to die the next day. They 
permitted him to go after he had promised them to 
return by sunrise the next morning. 

He visited his family, which consisted of his wife 
and six children. I cannot describe their meeting and 
parting so as to be understood by the whites, as it 
appears that their feelings are acted upon by certain 
rules laid down by their preachers, while ours are gov- 


erned by the monitor within us. He bade his loved 
ones the last sad farewell and hurried across the prairie 
to the fort and arrived in time. The soldiers were 
ready and immediately marched out and shot him 

[Interrupting the straight course of his account he 
says in melancholy:] 

Why did the Great Spirit ever send the whites to 
this island to drive us from our homes and introduce 
among us poisonous liquors, disease, and death? They 
should have remained in the land the Great Spirit 
allotted to them. But I will proceed with my story. 
My memory, however, is not very good since my late 
visit to the white people. I have still a buzzing noise 
in my ears. ... I may give some parts of my story out 
of place, but will make my best endeavor to be correct. 

[Some chiefs were called upon to go to Washington 
to see the Great Father, who wanted them in case of 
war to remain neutral, promising them to let die 
traders sell to them in the fall goods on credit, that 
they might hunt and repay with furs in the spring, 
as the British had arranged it up to then. Everything 
depended for the Sac upon this institution. But the 
trader refused bluntly to sell on credit.] 

The war chief said the trader could not furnish us 
on credit, and that he had received no instructions 
from our Great Father at Washington. We left the fort 
dissatisfied and went to camp. What was now to be 
done we knew not. . . . Few of us slept that night. 
All was gloom and discontent. 


[As a result ot this treatment they joined the Brit- 

Our lodges were soon taken down, and we all started 
for Rock Island. Here ended all hopes of our remain- 
ing at peace, having been forced into war by being 
deceived. . . . 

We continued our march, joining the British below 
Detroit, soon after which we had a battle. The Ameri- 
cans fought well and diove us back with considerable 
loss. I was greatly surprised at this, as I had been told 
that the Americans would not fight. . . . 

On my arrival at the village I was met by the chiefs 
and braves and conducted to the lodge which was pre- 
pared for me. After eating, I gave a full account of all 
that I had seen and done. I explained to my people 
the manner in which the British and Americans fought. 
Instead of stealing upon each other and taking every 
advantage to kill the enemy and save their own people 
as we do, which with us is considered good policy in 
a war chief, they march out in open daylight and fight 
regardless of the number of warriors they may lose. 
After the battle is over they retire to feast and drink 
wine as if nothing had happened. After which they 
make a statement in writing of what they have done, 
each party claiming the victory and neither giving an 
account of half the number that have been killed on 
their own side. 

[The British lose constantly. After a long time of 
consideration and many councils Black Hawk decides 
to make a treaty of peace with the "chief at St. Louis."] 

The great chief at St. Louis having sent word for us 
to come down and confirm the treaty, we did not hesi- 
tate but started immediately that we might smoke the 


peace pipe with him. On our arrival we met the great 
chiefs in council. They explained to us the words of 
our Great Father in Washington, accusing us of hei- 
nous crimes and many misdemeanors, particularly in 
not coming down when first invited. We knew very 
well that our Great Father had deceived us and thereby 
forced us to join the British, and could not believe 
that he had put this speech into the mouths of those 
chiefs to deliver to us. I was not a civil chief and con- 
sequently made no reply, but our civil chiefs told the 
commissioners: "What you say is a lie. Our Great 
Father sent us no such speech, he knew that the situ- 
ation in which we had been placed was caused by 
him." The white chiefs appeared very angry at this 
reply and said, "We will break off the treaty and make 
war against you, as you have grossly insulted us." 

Our chiefs had no intention of insulting them and 
told them, so, saying, "We merely wish to explain that 
you have told us a lie, without any desire to make you 
angry, in the same manner that you whites do when 
you do not believe what is told you." The council 
then proceeded and the pipe of peace was smoked. 

Here for the first time I touched the goose quill to 
sign the treaty, not knowing, however, that by the act 
I consented to give away my village. Had that been 
explained to me I should have opposed it and never 
would have signed their treaty, as my recent conduct 
will clearly prove. What do we know of the manners, 
the laws, and the customs of the white people? They 
might buy our bodies for dissection, and we would 
touch the goose quill to confirm it and not know what 
we were doing. This was the case with me and my 
people in touching the goose quill the first time. 


"We can only judge o what is proper and right by 
our standard of what is right and wrong, which differs 
widely from die whites', if I have been correctly in- 
formed. The whites may do wrong all their lives and 
then if they are sorry for it when about to die, all is 
well, but with us it is different. We must continue to 
do good throughout our lives. If we have corn and 
meat, and know of a family that have none, we divide 
with them. If we have more blankets than we abso- 
lutely need, and others have not enough, we must give 
to those who are in want. 

[As Black Hawk could not yield to the demand o 
the "white chiefs" and leave his village and his grave- 
yard, a war ensued, the so-called Black Hawk War, 
lasting from 1831-2. Chief Keokuk, his great antago- 
nist, who was willing to negotiate with the whites and 
persuaded part of the tiibe to abandon the village, 
caused thus a rift among the Sac.] 

I looked upon Keokuk as a coward and no brave* 
. . . What right had these people [the whites] to our 
village and our fields, which the Great Spirit had given 
us to live upon? My reason teaches me that land can- 
not be sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children 
to live upon and cultivate as far as necessary for their 
subsistence, and so long as they occupy and cultivate 
it they have the right to the soil, but if they volun- 
tarily leave it, then any other people have a right to 
settle on it. Nothing can be sold but such things as 
can be carried away. 

[It was at Fort Crawford that Black Hawk, in the 
despair of defeat, said: "Farewell, my nation! Fare- 
well, Black Hawk!"] 

The massacre which terminated the war lasted about 

two hours. Our loss in killed was about sixty, besides 
a number that was drowned. . . . 

I was now given up by the agent to the command- 
ing officer at Fort Ciawford, the White Beaver [Gen- 
eral Atkinson] having gone down the river. 

On our way down I surveyed the country that had 
cost us so much trouble, anxiety, and blood, and that 
now caused me to be a prisoner o war. I reflected 
upon the ingratitude of the whites when I saw their 
fine houses, rich harvests, and everything desirable 
around them; and recollected that all this land had 
been ours, for which I and my people had never re- 
ceived a dollar, and that the whites were not satisfied 
until they took our village and our graveyards from us 
and removed us across the Mississippi. 

On our arrival at Jefferson Barracks we met the 
great war chief, White Beaver, who had commanded 
the American army against my little band. I felt the 
humiliation of my situation; a little while before I 
had been leader of my braves, now I was a prisoner of 
war. He received us kindly and treated us well. 

We were now confined to the barracks and forced 
to wear the ball and chain. This was extremely morti- 
fying and altogether useless. Was the White Beaver 
afraid I would break out of his barracks and run away? 
Or was he ordered to inflict this punishment upon me? 
If I had taken him prisoner on the field of battle I 
would not have wounded his feelings so much by such 
treatment, knowing that a brave war chief would prefer 
death to dishonor. But I do not blame the White 
Beaver for the course he pursued, as it is the custom 
among white soldiers, and I suppose was a part of his 



Sir The changes of fortune and vicissitudes of war 
made you my conqueror. When my last resources were 
exhausted, my warriors, worn down with long and 
toilsome marches, yielded, and I became your prisoner. 
The story of my life is told in the following pages: it 
is intimately connected, and m some measure identified 
with a part of the history of your own: I have, there- 
fore, dedicated it to you. 

The changes of many summers have brought old age 
upon me, and I cannot expect to survive many moons. 
Before I set out on my journey to the land of my 
fathers, I have determined to give my motives and 
reasons for my former hostilities to the whites, and to 
vindicate my character from misrepresentations. The 
kindness I received from you whilst a prisoner of war 
assures me that you will vouch for the facts contained 
in my narrative, so far as they came under your ob- 

I am now an obscure member of a nation that for- 
merly honored and respected my opinions. The path- 
way to glory is rough, and many gloomy hours obscure 
it. May the Great Spirit shed light on yours, and that 
you may never experience the humiliation that the 
power of the American government has reduced me 
to, is the wish of him who, in his native forests, was 
once as proud as you. 

loth Moon 1833. BLACK HAWK 

Preceding The Autobiography of Black Hawk. 



My children, 

"When at first I liked the whites, 

I gave them fruits, 

I gave them fruits. 

Father have pity on me, 
I am crying for thirst, 
All is gone, 
I have nothing to eat. 


The father will descend, 
The earth will tremble, 
Everybody will arise, 
Stretch out your hands. 


The Crow Ehe' eye! 
I saw him when he flew down, 
To the earth, to the earth. 
He has renewed our life, 
He has taken pity on us. 



I circle around 
The boundaries of the earth, 
Wearing the long wing feathers, 
As I 0y. 


I'yehe! my children 

My children, 

We have rendered them desolate. 

The whites are crazy Ahe'yuhe'yuJ 


We shall live again, 
We shall live again. 

Selected from James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion. 
These seven songs, composed by Plains Indians amid the 
blissful state of a trance induced by dancing, may stand for 
the various threads that made up the web of this religious 
ceremony, a last creative outburst of a race that was doomed 
to vanish. 

The songs in the above sequence bring into relief a few 
of the elements of this composite religious movementthat 
is, in its later manifestations: sincere welcome of (.he white 
man and his astonishing new ways of life followed by bitter 
disillusionment and the consciousness of being forsaken 
even by their own gods. But out of deceit, rottenness, and 
wanton destruction arises the Messianic vision of a new 
god who will mercifully renew their life, and, after having 
annihilated die "crazy" whites a trait particularly devel- 


oped by the Smohalla cult call back the glories of the past, 
if only upon another plane of existence. 

However, it is not Mooney's much-quoted work on the 
Ghost Dance that provides us with the historical back- 
ground and opens up the psychic milieu of this religious 
movement that swept across the Plains in 1890. It is Leslie 
Spier's The Prophet Dance of the Northwest (1935) that, 
by means of elaborate documentation both from historic 
sources and ethnographic materials, challenges the hitherto 
accepted supposition that these nativistic movements were 
nothing but "cults of despair" sprung up merely as a reac- 
tion against the demoralizing influences of die whites and 
the contact with Christianity. Spier proves that, on die con- 
trary, these religious revivals were deeply rooted in an 
aboriginal pattern The Ghost Dance of 1890 was not a 
wholly new development, but had its historical antecedent 
in the Prophet Dance of the Northwest, die doctrine of 
which "belief in die impending destruction and renewal 
of the world, when die dead would return," was native. 
Even the later Smohalla cult was essentially, not Christian. 
It was ready to assimilate elements of the Christian belief 
only on account of a certain doctrinal similarity. Spier's 
study offers to die student of cultural processes material of 
great psychological interest. On die one side, it cautions 
the overeager student as to the nature of cultural similari- 
ties: similar patterns may very well have developed inde- 
pendently. And, on the other side, new traits are usually 
acculturized more or less successfully only if aboriginal pat- 
terns and attitudes bear a certain resemblance to die fea- 
tures to be assimilated. This latter fact should have con- 
siderable bearing on the activities of "cultural engineers." 




This is about one man a long time before the white 
men came here. As I relate this today, it is not really 
I who is responsible: it is narrated as I heard the nar- 
rators. And if they made mistakes in what they said 
I shall indeed make mistakes in what I say when nar- 
rating this today. But I 'shall tell the story very care- 
fully as the old men told me. I shall surely narrate it 
exactly as I heard it. That is how this story will be. 
Would that I were older, for then I might tell a very 
interesting tale. . . . 

A long time ago when this earth was young, whoever 
existed as mortal and fasted earnestly finally was 
richly blessed, it is said, by the manitous. 

But nothing happened to him (that young man). 
He did not even have a name, as he was very poor. 
He looked again and again at the Spirit of Fire, it 
seems, so it is said. Finally, as he was gazing at the 
Spirit of Fire, it blazed, so it is said. "Well," he said, 
"this one is greatly endowed with mystic power," he 
thought, it is said. "Tomorrow I shall go and wail," 
he thought, "for I know all too little how my life is. 
I do not even know how my life will be in the future," 
he thought, it is said. 

So, early the next morning, he started to take down 
his tobacco and burned it for the Spirit of the Fire. 
"Now, my grandfather, today I give you this tobacco 
to smoke as I wail for my life," he said to him. As he 


went out he shrieked blindly as he wandered far off 
in the wilderness. He went about wailing. And when 
he saw anything that appeared mysterious, he took his 
tobacco and cast it on it. "My grandfathersl Mani- 
tous! Because I am indeed wretched is why I go about 
wailing," he said, it is said. . . . 

Finally he walked back to where he came from and 

And the next morning he went far off, blindly with 
open hands, that he might know where the manitous 
dwelt. He simply thought anything was a manitou and 
scattered his tobacco. Well, in exactly ten days he came 
back to eat. That verily is what I narrate. He did not 
know anything. Therefore he again departed. And he 
came back. He had been going about wailing the third 
time. And again he merely ate and departed, it is said. 
That indeed is what happened to him. So, it is said, 
he was addressed by a manitou. It was a wolf. It was 
a black one, it is said. "Now today, my grandchild, I 
bless you," he said. He was blessed by a manitou, a 
black wolf. "But myself I am not able to bless you, 
so that my blessing will be valid," the wolf said to 
him. "But let us go yonder," he was told. And he was 
taken to the east, it is said. "Now this day I bring my 
grandchild. I took pity upon him as he waited bitterly 
because he did not know how his life was. He thought 
his life was very wretched. That is why I took pity 
upon him," this wolf said to this manitou who dwells 
in the east. "Surely I also take compassion upon him 
in the same way," they were told by the manitou. "You 
must indeed in addition take him yonder. For as we 
are now merely two who bless him, it is not enough," 
said this manitou. So they went out again, departed 

and went to where a manitou dwelt in the south, it is 
said. That verily is what is related. [And] he was 
blessed in every kind of way, even so that he himself 
might bless the people. 

From Truman Michelson, Fox Miscellany, pp. 103-3. The 
beginning of a ritual origin myth, told in a rather ram- 
bling style, but typical both in content and form of nar- 




Now this is an old story of what the people a long 
while ago, a very long while ago, did, some time be- 
fore the white man came here on this island [earth]. 

Now it seems there was a man, a young man, who 
married. He was a fine fellow. After he married, soon 
he had a child. Well, soon when it had grown large, 
their little son began to be ill. He became sicker, and 
sure enough their little son died. Soon after their son 
died his wife likewise began to be ill. It was for a 
short time, and then she also died. 

After his son and wife died, then it seems he began 
fasting in the winter, wailing all the while. "Surely 
the manitot could not have made us," he cried out. 
He wert around weeping and putting down tobacco, 
giving everything, even water, a smoke. "Well, I hand 
this tobacco to you as I do not know what my future 
life will continue to be," he said to water, rocks, and 
every little tiling that looked strange to him. Suddenly 
he made burnt offerings [of tobacco] to trees, wailing 
all the while. Soon he went around wailing at dusk. 
This is how he sang when he went around wailing: 

"Cry, cry for myself 
Cry, cry for myself." 

That, it seems, is the song he used. 
"Where, pray, are ye, manitous," he said. And he 
said to the manitous, "Why do you make mortals as 


they die?" He quarreled with them without reason. 
"Have pity upon me," he said to them. As often as it 
was winter for four years that man, it seems, fasted 
far off. He who found the little buffalo was the one 
first to be blessed. Finally, it seems that later on he was 
soon addressed by one being. "Well, try to cease wail- 
ing; I shall bless you," he was told. "Verily, I in turn 
shall live with you as long as this earth remains on 
earth, such is the extent of the blessing I bestow upon 
you. . . . For I know how badly you felt when you 
lost sight of your son whom you loved." 

From Truman Michelson, On the Fox Indians, p. 507. 
Sam Peters, a Fox Indian, put the text down in his native 
language, while T. Michelson translated it literally. 




Now this day you have ceased to see daylight. 

Think only of what is good. 

Do not think of anything uselessly. 

You must think all the time of what is good. 

You will go and live with our nephew. 

And do not think evil towards these your relatives. 

When you start to leave them this day you must not 

think backwards of them with regret. 
And do not think of looking back at them. 
And do not feel badly because you have lost sight of 

this daylight. 
This does not happen today to you alone, so that you 

thus be alone when you die. 
Bless the people so that they may not be sick. 
This is what you will do. 
You must merely bless them so that they may live as 

mortals here. 

You must always think kindly. 
Today is the last time I shall speak to you. 
Now I shall cease speaking to you, my relative. 

From ibid., p. 417. 



It is he, it is he, 

The person with the spirit of an owl; 

It is he, it is he, 

The person with the spirit of an owl; 

It is he, it is he. 

All the manitous are weeping, 
Because I go around weeping, 
Because I go around weeping, 
All the manitous are weeping. 

The sky will weep, 
The sky, 

At the end of the earth; 
The sky will weep. 

From Truman Michelson, The Owl Sacred Pack of the 
Fox Indians, p. 29. With the Fox, mourning for the indi- 
vidual dead is deep and passionate, but their attitude to- 
ward death in general is stoic: the Fox is expected to face 
death without fear and cowardice, for no one can escape it. 
Said Owl in times way back: ". . . we shall not live here 
forever. We shall die. In fact, we shall all die. No one of 
us who exist as mortals here, shall exist as a mortal forever. 
As many of us as blink have death, all of us who call each 
other mortals. If anyone thinks, 'No, not I; I shall always 
exist as a mortal,' he surely dies. He surely comes to death. 
For he, the manitou, has fixed that which will happen to 
each one of us." p. 55. The Owl is sacred to the Fox. 



My grandchildren, I bless you. There is nothing evil 
in the way I have thought of you. I have thought of 
you indeed in a good way. So long as your life shall 
endure, so long shall I make it go for you. And from 
time to time you will continue to gladden the people 
by what you do: such is the blessing I shall continue 
to bestow upon you. But, my grandchildren, do not 
expect anything in return from your fellow-people 
whom you have pleased. That is the only thing I tell 
you. ... Do not throw me out of your thoughts. Verily 
I too have put my thoughts in here [in the sacred bun- 
dle] when I blessed you. When I think of going yonder 
I go thither. / arrive at where I am going. Even if 
there were a river flowing by, I would come there, 
nothing would go wrong with me; even if there were 
a cliff where I was going I should go there. I should 
not be hindered at all. . . . That is one way I bless 
you. If a river is deep and wide, you will easily wade 

And again, if anyone is wounded, you will heal him. 
You will not fail to heal him, but only if he prays to 
you; if he does not pray to you, you will not heal 
him. . . . Even if anyone's bone is broken, you will 
heal it together for him. . . . But you will live quietly. 
You will have plenty of time to share it with others. 
But there is this: you will instruct those who will take 
care of the sacred pack in the future, that each may 
take extremely good care of it; and you will accord- 


ingly tell them that they continue to hold gens fes- 
tivals with solemnity; and you will accordingly tell 
them that they always think seriously of it. ... 

The one that will truly continue to believe you is 
the one that will continue to be blessed by the sacred 
pack here. And the one who shall not believe you will 
not continue to be blessed in the future. The one that 
continues to think of it is the one that will be thought 
of. He will not become sick. Moreover, if your foes 
fight with you, he is the one who will not be shot. And 
some will think you funny. Such a one will truly 
die ... 

And all the manitous will hear the flute when you 
blow it. As many times as you blow it, he will hear it, 
though its sound does not go very far. But even the 
one who is above will hear it. 

You will truly please me if you do not cease think- 
ing of what I tell you. ... I myself will be dose by 
there to listen to you. And do not think little of it. 
When you tell the young people, even if they poke 
fun at you, you shall tell them quietly. Do not think 
of speaking harshly. You will think, 'Of course quiet- 
ness is the only way.' . . . 

And I shall give you this pipe. You shall smoke it 
twice during the entire summer. This is why you all 
should smoke, that you be not afflicted with disease. 
That is why you should smoke. Verily, after gens fes- 
tivals the people will be in good health. No one shall 
go away continuing to be in bad health. If any goes 
about in bad health, if he smokes, he will straightway 
have good health. 

Now what I tell you will come to pass. So you must 
zealously endeavor to carefully think of it. I am not 


speaking to you for fun. Exactly what I say to you 
shall come to pass. Nor shall I bless you here for a 
little while when I think of you. Until this earth ceases 
to be an earth, is as far as it will take care of you, if 
you always think seriously of it, and if you keep on 
holding gens festivals. 

From ibid., pp. 41, 43, 45. A "sacred bundle" is anytfiing 
that has "power." The ritual that is always associated with 
a bundle has the purpose to keep alive the rapport between 
the supernatural source of the sacred pack and the owner; 
it also serves to transfer die power from the original owner 
to another person. See Wissler, Ceremonial Bundles of the 
Blackfoot Indians, p. 27*. 




When Weshgishega was growing up his father coaxed 
him to fast. He told him that when Earthmaker had 
created the various spirits, all the good ones he had 
created were placed in charge of something. The gift 
of bestowing upon man life and victory in war he gave 
to some; to others, the gift of hunting powers. What- 
ever powers the Indians needed in order to live, these 
he placed in the hands of various spirits. These bless- 
ings Weshgishega's father told Weshgishega to attempt 
to obtain from the spirits. 

Thus Weshgishega fasted and tried to obtain some- 
thing from the spirits. But as he fasted he kept think- 
ing to himself, "Long ago Earthmaker created all the 
different spirits and he put every one of them in con- 
trol of something, so people say. He himself must 
therefore be much more powerful than all the others. 
As holy as these spirits are, so assuredly Earthmaker 
must be mightier, holier." So he thought. He tried to 
be blessed by Earthmaker. He thought to himself, 
"What kind of being is he?" As he fasted Weshgishega 
thought to himself, "Not even any of the spirits whom 
Earthmaker created has really known Earthmaker as 
he actually is; not one of the spirits has he even blessed. 
J wonder, however, whether Earthmaker would bless 
me? This is what I am thinking of," So he put himself 
into a most pitiful condition and uttered his cry to the 
spirits. He could not stop. "From Earthmaker do I 


wish to obtain knowledge. If he does not bless me 
during my fasting I shall assuredly die." So, to the ut- 
most of his power did he fast. He wished to be blessed 
only by Earthmaker. 

At first he fasted four days; then six; then eight; 
then ten, and finally twelve days. After that he broke 
his fast. Yet it was quite clear that he had obtained 
no knowledge, quite clear that he had not been blessed. 
So he gave up his fasting and when he reached the age 
of early manhood he married. 

He took his wife, and the two of them moved to an 
out-of-the-way place. There they lived, he and his 

Here again he commenced to fast, his wife with him. 
He wished to be blessed by Earthmaker. This time he 
felt that most assuredly would he die if Earthmaker 
did not appear before him in his fasting. "Never has 
it been told that such a thing could happen, that 
Earthmaker would bless anyone. Yet I shall continue 
even if I have to die." 

After a while a child was born to him. It was a boy. 
He addressed his wife and asked her advice, saying that 
they ought to sacrifice their child to Earthmaker. She 
consented. To Earthmaker therefore they prepared to 
sacrifice their child. They constructed a platform and 
placed their child upon it. Then both of them wept 
bitterly. In the nighttime when the man slept, Earth- 
maker took pity on him and appeared to him. The 
man looked at him. He thought, "This, most certainly, 
is Earthmaker." He wore a soldier's uniform and car- 
ried a high cocked hat on his head. He had a very 
pleasing appearance. Weshgishega looked at him and 
wondered whether this really was Earthmaker. The 


figure took one step, then another, and finally disap- 
peared, uttering a cry. It was not Earthmaker; it was 
a pigeon. The bad spirits were fooling Weshgishega. 

Now even more than before did his heart ache, even 
more than before was his heart wound up in the de- 
sire to be blessed by Earthmaker. Now again he fasted 
and again apparently Earthmaker appeared to him. 
"Human being, I bless you. Long have you made your 
cry for a blessing. I am Earthmaker." When Weshgi- 
shega looked at him, he saw that he was pleasing in 
appearance. He looked very handsome and his dress 
was nice to look upon. He wondered whether this 
really was Earthmaker. As he looked at the figure it be- 
came smaller and smaller and when finally he looked, 
he noticed that it was a bird. 

Then his heart ached even more than before. Bit- 
terly did he cry. Now, for the third time, Earthmaker 
blessed him saying, "Human being, you have tried to 
be blessed by Earthmaker and you have caused your- 
self great suffering. I am Earthmaker and I bless you. 
You will never be in want of anything; you will be 
able to understand the language of your neighbors; 
you will have a long life; indeed, with everything do 
I bless you." But, from the very first, this figure did not 
inspire Weshgishega with confidence and he thought 
to himself, "Somebody must be fooling me." And so 
it was; it was a bird. 

Then most assuredly did he think that he wished to 
die, for he felt that all the bad birds in the world were 
trying to make fun of him. 

Earthmaker, above where he sits, knew of all this. 
He heard the man's voice and he said, "O Weshgi- 
shega, you are crying. I shall come to the earth for 


you. Your father has told me all." Then when Wesh- 
gishega looked, he saw a ray of light extending very 
distinctly from the sky down to the earth. To the camp 
it extended. "Weshgishega, you said that you wanted 
to see me. That, however, cannot be. But I am the 
ray of light. You have seen me." 

Not with any war powers did Earthmaker bless him; 
only with life. 

From Paul Radin, Crashing Thunder, pp. 20-3. 



Hearken, O Earthmaker, our father, I am about to 
offer tobacco to you. My ancestor concentrated his 
mind upon you, and that with which you blessed him I 
now ask of you directly. I ask for the small amount of 
life you granted him, and for four times the blessings 
you bestowed upon him. May I never meet with trou- 
ble in life. 

O Grandfather, chief of the Thunderbirds, you who 
live in the west, here is a handful of tobacco. Extend 
to me the deer with which you blessed my ancestor. I 
pray to accept this tobacco from me. May I never meet 
with trouble in life. 

O Grandfathers, spirits of the night, walkers in 
darkness, to you I offer tobacco and ask for the fire- 
places which my ancestor received. If you smoke this 
tobacco see to it that I never become a weakling. 

To you who live in the south, you who look like a 
man, you who are invulnerable, you who deal out life 
from one side of your body and death from the other, 
you whom we call Disease Giver, to you I offer tobacco. 
In daylight, in broad daylight, did you bless my an- 
cestor. With food you blessed him; you told him that 
he would never fail in anything, you told him that 
you would avoid his home; you placed animals in 
front of him that he should have no trouble in obtain- 
ing them. An offering of tobacco I make to you that 
you may smoke it and that I may not be troubled in 

From ibid. f pp. 80-1. 



[After the missionary had done speaking, the Indians 
conferred together about two hours, by themselves, 
when they gave an answer by Red Jacket, which fol- 

Friend and brother, it was the will of the Great 
Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders 
all things, and he has given us a fine day for our 
council. He has taken his garment from before the 
sun, and caused it to shine with brightness upon us; 
our eyes are opened, that we see clearly; our ears are 
unstopped, that we have been able to hear distinctly 
the words that you have spoken; for all these favors we 
thank the Great Spirit, and him only. 

Brother, this council fire was kindled by you; it was 
at your request that we came together at this time; 
we have listened with attention to what you have said; 
you requested us to speak our minds freely; this gives 
us great joy, for we now consider that we stand upright 
before you, and can speak what we think; all have 
heard your voice, and all speak to you as one man; 
our minds are agreed. 

Brother, you say you want an answer to your talk 
before you leave this place. It is right you should have 
one, as you are a great distance from home, and we do 
not wish to detain you; but we will first look back a 
little, and tell you what our fathers have told us, and 
what we have heard from the white people. 


Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time 
when our forefathers owned this great island. Their 
seats extended from the rising to the setting sun. The 
Great Spirit had made it for the use of the Indians. 
He had created the buffalo, the deer, and other ani- 
mals for food. He made the bear and the beaver, and 
their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them 
over the country, and taught us how to take them. He 
had caused the earth to produce corn for bread. All 
this he had done for his red children because he loved 
them. If we had any disputes about hunting grounds, 
they were generally settled without the shedding of 
much blood: but an evil day came upon us; your fore- 
fathers crossed the great waters and landed on this 
island. Their numbers were small; they found friends, 
not enemies; they told us they had fled from their own 
country for fear of wicked men, and come here to 
enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat; we 
took pity on them, granted their request, and they 
sat down among us; we gave them corn and meat; they 
gave us poison in return. The white people had now 
found our country, tidings were carried back, and more 
came among us; yet we did not fear them, we took 
them to be friends; they called us brothers; we be- 
lieved them and gave them a larger seat. At length 
their number had greatly increased; they wanted more 
land; they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened, 
and our minds became uneasy. Wars took place; In- 
dians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of 
our people were destroyed. They also brought strong 
liquors among us: it was strong and powerful, and 
has slain thousands. 
Brother, our seats were once large, and yours were 


very small; you have now become a great people, and 
we have scarcely left a place to spread our blankets; 
you have got our country, but are not satisfied; you 
want to force your religion upon us. 

Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are 
sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit 
agreeably to his mind, and if we do not take hold of 
the religion which you white people teach, we shall be 
unhappy hereafter; you say that you are right, and we 
are lost; how do we know this to be true? We under- 
stand that your religion is written in a book; if it was 
intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great 
Spirit given it to us, and not only to us, but why did 
he not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that 
book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We 
only know what you tell us about it; how shall we 
know when to believe, being so often deceived by the 
white people? 

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and 
serve the Great Spirit; if there is but one religion, why 
do you white people differ so much about it? Why do 
not all agree, as you can all read the book? 

Brother, we do not understand these things; we are 
told that your religion was given to your forefathers, 
and has been handed down from father to son. We 
also have a religion which was given to our forefathers, 
and has been handed down to us their children. We 
worship that way. It teacheth us to be thankful for 
all the favors we receive; to love each other, and to be 
united. We never quarrel about religion. 

Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all; but he 
has made a great difference between his white and red 
children; he has given us a different complexion, and 


different customs; to you he has given the arts; to 
these he has not opened our eyes; we know these things 
to be true. Since he has made so great a difference be- 
tween us in other things, why may we not conclude 
that he has given us a different religion according to 
our understanding; the Great Spirit does right; he 
knows what is best for his children; we are satisfied. 

Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or 
take it from you; we only want to enjoy our own. 

Brother, you say you have not come to get our land 
or our money, but to enlighten our minds. I will now 
tell you that I have been at your meetings, and saw 
you collecting money from the meeting. I cannot tell 
what this money was intended for, but suppose it was 
for your minister, and if we should conform to your 
way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us. 

Brother, we are told that you have been preaching 
to white people in this place; these people are our 
neighbors, we are acquainted with them; we will wait 
a little while and see what effect your preaching has 
upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them 
honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will 
then consider again what you have said. 

Brother, you have now heard the answer to your 
talk, and this is all we have to say at present. As we 
are going to part, we will come and take you by the 
hand, and hope the Great Spirit will protect you on 
your journey, and return you safe to your friends. 

From Samuel G. Drake, Biography and History of the 
Indians of North America, pp. 594 ff. This speech, says 
Drake, may be taken as genuine, at least as nearly so as the 


Indian language in which it was delivered can be trans- 
lated, for Red Jacket would not speak in English, although 
he understood it. After the Seneca chief had finished his 
speech, he and others drew near the missionary to take him 
by the hand; but he would not receive them, and, hastily 
rising from his seat, said "that there was no fellowship be- 
tween the religion of God and the works of the devil, there- 
fore, could not join hands with them." The Indians with- 
drewpolitely smiling. 



[The Speaker calls upon the Spirit Forces:] 

"Truly we are thankful that we have lived long 
enough to see the time come when these our grand- 
fathers the trees bloom forth, and also the coming up 
of vegetation. 

"Now as well for this water and for him our grand- 
father fire, and again this air, again this sunlight. 
When everyone has been blessed with such gifts it is 
enough to make one realise what kind of benevolence 
comes from our father, because he it is who has cre- 
ated everything." 

[The Narrator tells about the First Night of the 

The Master of Ceremony says when he goes into the 
Big House, when rising to his feet, he speaks saying, 
"Truly I am thankful, my kindred. It is exceedingly 
good that we have lived on through to see each other, 
that we are in good health. I am truly thankful to 
bring forth the blessing, my brothers and sisters and 
those there, our children. I bless you all with every 
kind of blessing. Truly it is unbecoming to me be- 
cause I feel incompetent when instructing you what 
to do. Pitiful am I, indeed, as it is said. It rests very 
heavily upon my mind when I see each year how at 
present this our way of living has become pitiful. But 
nevertheless we must all try, my brothers and sisters 
and also even those children. Let everyone use his 
mind earnestly when we lift up our prayer of appeal 


to that one, our father, the Great Spirit and Our Cre- 
ator. Indeed, it is with great sadness of mind that we 
look back and see the past of our cultural life as it is 
said to have been. . . . Indeed, it brings sadness of 
mind when we see here now how few of our relatives 
are seated around that space. It is enough to make 
anyone ponder over the cause of it. I myself never did 
think that I would live long enough, as a survivor, 
living as I am right here instructing in sacred things 
where other sacred teachers, our deceased ancestors, 
so thoroughly inspired in worship, taught. So I pray 
that everyone help. If accordingly everyone does all in 
his power, earnestly praying with all his heart, it might 
occasion those spirit forces to hear our pitiful appeal, 
those who carry the power of blessing. And right heie 
this evening in a little while we shall begin to feel our- 
selves being touched by our grandfathers who move 
this our prayer-worship." . . . 1 

[And the Narrator continues:] 

"I am truly thankful that I bring the address of 
blessing, my brothers, my sisters, and these our chil- 
dren. I give thanks that I bring blessing, all and every 
kind of spiritual blessings. Truly I am very feeble my- 
self, as it is said, it oppresses my heart when I see how 
now we are orphans. Many times we have heard from 
our deceased ancestors how, so it is said, they sadly 
pleaded, when, reciting their vision experience, telling 
how pitiful were the conditions then in their time 
said to be. Verily I myself do grieve, my kindred, when 
I look back there into the past. But, nevertheless, in- 
deed try your utmost, everyone have a helpful will, 

1 Follows Recitation of Vision. 

and it might be that our pitiful plea for mercy be 
heard by him the Great Spirit. We may perchance 
sometime gain a victory to our benefit. 

"Truly, my kindred, as it is forcibly said, I am op- 
pressed with a feeling of incapability while standing 
here to instruct anyone in the blessing, here where 
stands he our Grandfather. 2 And I am truly thankful 
to bless with gratitude all those spirit forces, all of 
them sitting round about us over the entire earth. 
And when we consider how our deceased ancestors so 
thoroughly paid attention to the obligations of this 
prayer-worship! Indeed how greatly are we privileged 
and blessed that still we can perform the ceremony as 
we were accustomed to see our deceased ancestors do 
it! This is sufficient for this occasion. Thanks!" 8 

[The Master of Ceremonies addresses the assemblage 
on the morning of the Thirteenth Day:] 

"My kindred, there remains one more matter, some- 
thing I want to say for you to bear well in mind. It 
is said traditionally, when anyone on Good meditates 
in his heart, there is formed the thought. And when 
he thinks of Good it is easy to behave well, but when 
he misbehaves it is the Evil that a person seriously 
thinks about as concerns his life. It is exceedingly 
hard because it is necessary that we prepare the soul- 
spirit in order that we shall be able to take it back 

* He refers to the carved image of the Great Spirit on the 
central post of the Big House. 

The ceremony proper lasts is days. The most conspic- 
uous features of this ritual are the recitations of visions, 
always followed by a dance down the White Path, the cere- 
monial eating of hominy, the kindling of the new fire, and 
the burning of the sacred cedar. 


home again to where it belongs, to our father, when 
its use is finished here where we live. Here in this 
place it is the body that shall remain here because 
here is where it belongs in the ground. . . . 

"And now, my kindred, here when for the last time 
we are touched by these our grandfathers the turtle- 
rattles, that is the beginning of our concluding act. 
Now here at last we are ready to end this our father's 
service. And, my kindred, now from hence as we are 
going home, you must take good care, for you are car- 
rying with you the spirit of Delaware worship." . . . 

From Frank G. Speck, A Study of the Delaware Indian 
Big House Ceremony. In native text dictated by Witapa- 
n6xwe. Pp. 105, 113, 115, 125, 127, 161, 163. One under- 
stands best the intrinsic meaning of the Big House Cere- 
mony by going somewhat into the concept of the White 
Path. As most of the "temples" the world over, the Big 
House o the Delaware Indians a tribe belonging to the 
Algonquian stock symbolizes the universe. The White Path 
is the hard-trodden dancing path outlined on the floor of 
the Big House winding from the east door down toward 
the north, passing around the two sacred fires, and again 
around the center post, upon which the image of the high- 
est manitou is carved, doubling back to the south and from 
there to the west door, the exit, the place of sunset where 
all things end. The White Path is the symbol of the transit 
of life; it stands for the road of life down which man 
wends his way with iron inevitability. But it also stands, 
according to Frank Speck, for the journey of the soul after 
death, for it corresponds to the Milky Way, the path of the 

This ceremony, then, is not only one that is thought to 
serve general purification, but also to promote life and 
health, and, above all, to strengthen the bonds with the 
ancestors, one of the main prerequisites to increasing the 
powers of life. Pp. 22-3. 




I come again to greet and thank the League; 
I come again to greet and thank the kindred; 
I come again to greet and thank the warriors; 
I come again to greet and thank the women. 
My forefathers, what they established, 
My forefathers, hearken to them! 

A-haigh f my grandsiresl Now hearken while your 
grandchildren cry mournfully to you, because the 
Great League which you established has grown old. 
We hope that they may hear. 

A-haigh f my grandsiresl You have said that sad will 
be the fate of those who come in the latter times. 

O, ray grandsiresl Even now I may have failed to 
perform this ceremony in the order in which they 
were wont to perform it. 

O, my grandsiresl Even now that has become old 
which you establishedthe Great League. You have it 
as a pillow under your heads in the ground where you 
are lying this Great League which you established; 
although you said that far away in the future the 
Great League would endure. 

Now listen, ye who established the Great League. 
Now it has become old. Now there is nothing but 
wilderness. Ye are in your graves who established it. 
Ye have taken it with you, and have placed it under 
you, and there is nothing left but a desert. There ye 
have taken your intellects with you. What ye estab- 
lishedthe Great League. 


From Horatio Hale, The Iroquois Book of Rites, pp. 
123, 129. In every important council of the Iroquois a song 
or chant was considered one of the most essential parts of 
the proceedings. In the Rite of the Condoling Council, 
which is the greatest of all councils and which presents the 
lamentation for a departed chief of the Great League and 
the installation of a new chief, the preceding hymn must 
be of especial significance. The above hymn is taken from 
the Canienga version of the Book of Rites and offers the 
solemn introduction to the equally important ceremony 
which is to follow that is, the repetition of the ancient 
laws of the Iroquois Confederacy. As a whole, says Hale, 
this hymn, which is of considerable antiquity, may be con- 
sidered as an expression of reverence for the laws and for 
the dead, and of sympathy for the living, p. 64. 



From the Southeast 



Kd! Listen! In Alahlyi you repose, O Terrible Woman. 

Oh, you have drawn near to hearken. 

There in Alahiyi you are at rest, O White Woman. 

No one is ever lonely when with you. 

You are most beautiful. 

Instantly and at once you have rendered me a white 


No one is ever lonely when with me. 
Now you have made the path white for me. 
I shall never be dreary. . . . 
I shall never become blue. 
You have brought down to me the white road. 
There in midearth you have placed me. 
I shall stand erect upon the earth. 
No one is ever lonely when with me. 
I am very handsome. You have put me into the white 


I shall be in it as it moves about 
And no one with me shall ever be lonely. 
Verily, I shall never become blue. 
Instantly you have caused it to be so with me. 

And now there in Alahiyi you have rendered the 

woman blue. 

Now you have made the path blue for her; 
Let her be completely veiled in loneliness. 
Put her into the blue road. 
And now bring her down. 
Place her 'standing upon the earth. 


Where her feet are now and wherever she may go, 

Let loneliness leave its mark upon her. 

Let her be marked out for loneliness where she stands. 

Hal I belong to the Wolf clan, 

That one alone which was alotted for you. 

No one is ever lonely with me. I am handsome. 

Let her put her soul 

Into the very center of my soul, never to turn away. 

Grant that in the midst of men 

She shall never think of them. 

I belong to the one clan alone which was allotted for 

When the seven clans were established. 

Where [other] men live it is lonely. 

They are very loathsome. 

The common polecat has made them so like himself 

That they are fit only for his company. 

They have become mere refuse. 

They are very loathsome. 

The common oppossum has made them so like himself 

That they are fit only to be with him. 

They are very loathsome. 

Even the crow has made them so like himself 

That they are fit only for his company. 

They are very loathsome. 

The miserable rain-crow has made them so like himself 

That they are fit only to be with him. 

The seven clans all alike make one feel lonely in their 


They are not even good looking. 
They go about clothed with mere refuse. 


They go about even covered with dung. 

But I I was ordained to be a white man. 

I stand with my face toward the Sun Land. 

No one is ever lonely with me. I am very handsome. 

I shall certainly never become blue. 

I am covered with the everlasting white house 

Wherever I go. 

No one is ever lonely with me. 

Your soul has come into the very center of my soul, 

Never to turn away. 

I, Gatigwanasti, I take your soul. 

From James Mooney, Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees, 
pp. 376-7. Mooney obtained a number of sacred formulas 
on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina. These 
formulas, covering every subject pertaining to the daily 
life and thought of the Indian, including medicine, love, 
hunting, war, etc., were written by the shamans of the tribe, 
for their own use, in the Cherokee characters invented by 
Sequoyah in 1891, and were obtained with explanations, 
either from the writers themselves or from their surviving 
relatives. The above Love Charm appears to be recited by 
the lover himself not by a shaman. Blue is the color of 
distress, white that of happiness. 




Listenl Now I have come to step over your soul. 
You are of the wolf clan. Your name is Ayuiuni. 
Your spittle I have put at rest under the earth. 
Your soul I h'ave put at rest under the earth. 
I have come to cover you over with the black rock. 
I have come to cover you with the black slabs, never 

to reappear. 
Toward the black coffin in the Darkening Land your 

path shall stretch out. 
So shall it be for you. 

The clay of the upland has come [to cover you]. 
Instantly the black clay has lodged there where it is 

at rest at the black houses in the Darkening Land. 
With the black coffin and the black slabs I have come 

to cover you. 

Now your soul has faded away. 
It has become blue. 
"When darkness comes 
Your spirit shall grow less 
And dwindle away, 
Never to reappear. Listen! 

From ibid., p. 391. 



Long ago, when the world was new, there were seven 
boys who used to spend all their time down by the 
townshouse playing the gatayti'st i game, rolling a stone 
wheel along the ground and sliding a curved stick after 
it to strike it. Their mothers scolded, but it did no 
good, so one day they collected gatayu'sti stones and 
boiled them in the pot with the corn for dinner. When 
the boys came home hungry their mothers dipped out 
the stones and said, "Since you like the gatayu'sti 
stones better than the cornfields, take the stones now 
for your dinner." 

The boys were very angry, and went down to the 
townshouse saying, "As our mothers treat us that way, 
let us go where we shall never trouble them any more." 
They began a dance some say it was the Feather 
Dance and went round and round the townshouse, 
praying to the spirits to help them. At last their 
mothers were afraid something was wrong and went 
out to look for them. They saw the boys still dancing 
around the townshouse, and as they watched they no- 
tLed that their feet were off the earth, and that with 
every round they rose higher and higher in the air. 
They ran to get their children, but it was too late, for 
they were already above the roof of the townshouse 
all but one, whose mother managed to pull him down 
with the gatayffsti pole, but he struck the ground with 
such a force that he sank into it and the earth closed 
over him. 

The other six circled higher and higher until they 
went up to the sky, where we see them now as the 
Pleiades, which the Cherokee still call Anitsutsa, the 
Boys. The people grieved long after them, but the 
mother whose boy had gone into the ground came 
every morning and every evening to cry over the spot 
until the earth was damp with her tears. At last a 
little green shoot sprouted up and grew day by day 
until it became the tall tree that we call now the pine, 
and the pine is of the same nature as the stars and 
holds in itself the same bright light. 

From James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokees, p. 258. 


From the Deserts of the Southwest 



I am the Turquoise Woman's son. 

On top of Belted Mountain 

Beautiful horses slim like a weasel I 

My horse has a hoof like striped agate; 

His fetlock is like a fine eagle plume; 

His legs are like quick lightning. 

My horse's body is like an eagle-plumed arrow; 

My horse has a tail like a trailing black cloud. 

I put flexible goods on my horse's back; 

The Little Holy Wind blows through his hair. 

His mane is made of short rainbows. 
My horse's ears are made of round corn. 
My horse's eyes are made of big stars. 
My horse's head is made of mixed waters 
(From the holy waters he never knows thirst) . 
My horse's teeth are made of white shell. 
The long rainbow is in his mouth for a bridle, 

And with it I guide him. 

When my horse neighs, different-colored horses follow. 
When my horse neighs, different-colored sheep follow. 

I am wealthy, because of him. 

Before me peaceful, 
Behind me peaceful, 
Under me peaceful, 
Over me peaceful, 
All around me peaceful- 
Peaceful voice when he neighs. 

I am Everlasting and Peaceful. 
I stand for my horse. 

From Dane and Mary Roberts Goolidge, The Navajo 
Indians, p. a. Laving now in the semi-arid desert regions of 
die soudvwcst, die Navajo are mainly herdsmen, skillful 
blanket weavers, and unexcelled silversmiths. Their unusu- 
ally poetical cycles of songs breadie die iniiniteness o die 
sky, and their melodies are carried by the soft warm smell 
of die unbroken soil. The resemblance of certain traits of 
Navajo mydi and song with epic and song of die soudi 
Siberian tribes is striking. 





House made o dawn. 
House made of evening light. 
House made of the dark cloud. 
House made of male rain. 
House made of dark mist. 
House made of female rain. 
House made of pollen. 
House made of grasshoppers. 
Dark cloud is at the door. 
The trail out of it is dark cloud. 
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it. 
Male deity 1 
Your offering I make. 
I have prepared a smoke for you. 
Restore my feet for me. 
Restore my legs for me. 
Restore my body for me. 
Restore my mind for me. 
This very day take out your spell for me. 
Your spell remove for me. 
You have taken it away for me. 
Far off it has gone. 
Happily I recover. 
Happily my interior becomes cool. 
Happily I go forth. 
My interior feeling cool, may I walk. 
No longer sore, may I walk. 


Impervious to pain, may I walk. 

With lively feelings may I walk. 

As it used to be long ago, may I walk. 

Happily may I walk. 

Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk. 

Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk. 

Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk. 

Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk. 

Happily may I walk. 

Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk. 

May it be beautiful before me. 

May it be beautiful behind me. 

May it be beautiful below me. 

May it be beautiful above me. 

May it be beautiful all around me. 

In beauty it is finished. 

From Washington Matthews, Navajo Myths, Prayers, and 
Songs, pp. 54-5. 




My moccasins are black obsidian, 

My leggings are black obsidian, 

My shirt is black obsidian. 

I am girded with a black arrowsnake. 

Black snakes go up from my head. 

With zigzag lightning darting from the ends of my 

feet I step, 
With zigzag lightning streaming out from my knees 

I step, 
With zigzag lightning streaming from the tip of my 

tongue I speak. 

Now a disk of pollen rests on the crown of my head. 
Gray arrowsnakes and rattlesnakes eat it. 
Black obsidian and zigzag lightning streams out from 

me in four ways, 
Where they strike the earth, bad things, bad talk does 

not like it. 

It causes the missiles to spread out. 
Long Life, something frightful I am. 
Now I am. 

There is danger where I move my feet. 
I am whirlwind. 

There is danger when I move my feet. 
I am a gray bear. 

When I walk, where I step, lightning flies from me, 
Where I walk, one to be feared [I am]. 


Where I walk, Long Life. 
One to be feared I am. 
There is danger where I walk. 

From Pliny Earle Goddard, Navajo Texts, pp. 176, 178. 


Times were hard in the world. Everywhere there 
were beings who were eating people. One day a dark 
rain cloud was seen resting on top of Tc'ol'i. The next 
day the rain was seen to be falling nearly to the mid- 
dle of the mountain. The third day it reached well 
beyond the middle, and the fourth day the rain en- 
veloped the entire mountain and was falling at its 

First Man, observing this from the top of Dzilna' 
oditi, addressing First Woman, said, "Old Woman, 
four days ago there was a dark rain cloud on the top 
of Tc'ol'i, and now the entire mountain is covered 
with rain. Something unusual has happened. I am 
going to see what it is." "There are things to be feared 
there. The devouring ones are many. Why do you 
go?" First Woman replied. "Nothing untoward will 
happen," First Man said and started away on a run. 
When he had run some distance he began to sing: 

"I am approaching, close I am approaching. 
I being associated with the dawn, First Man I am. 
Now the mountain Tc'ol'i I am approaching. 
Where it is black with rain clouds I am 

Where the zigzag lightning lies above I am 


Where the rainbow lies above I am approaching. 
Where it is murky with the abounding water I am 



Possessed of long life and good fortune I am 


With good fortune before me, 
With good fortune behind me, 
With good fortune under me, 
With good fortune above me, 
With good fortune all around me, 
With good fortune proceeding from my mouth I 

come to it." 

. . . When First Man came to the top of the mountain 
he heard a baby crying. The lightning striking all 
about and murk caused by the hard rain made it diffi- 
cult to see anything. He discovered the baby lying 
with its head towards the west and its feet towards the 
east. Its cradle consisted of two short rainbows which 
lay longitudinally under it. Crosswise, at its chest and 
feet, lay red rays of the rising sun. Arched over its face 
was a rainbow. The baby was wrapped in four blank- 
etsdark cloud, blue cloud, yellow cloud, and white 
cloud. Along either side was a row of loops made of 
lightning and through these a sunbeam was laced back 
and forth. 

First Man, not knowing how to undo the fastenings, 
took up the baby, cradle and all, and started home. . . . 
When he arrived he called out, "Old Woman, it is a 
baby, I found it there where it is black night with 
rain clouds." He put the baby on the ground back of 
the fire, pulled the string, and the lacing came free in 
both directions. "The cradle shall be like this. Thin 
pieces of wood shall be placed underneath. There will 
be a row of loops on either side made of string. The 
bark of the cliff rose, shredded and rubbed fine, will 


be used under the child for a bed." It was a girl. . . . 
A day was the same as a year. The second day the 
girl sat up, and when two days had passed she looked 
around. And when three days had passed she danced. 
. . . And on the tenth day, at dawn, she was named 
Yolkai Estsan, White Shell Woman. 

From ibid., pp. 148-50. The highest place in the Navajo 
pantheon is held by Estsanatlehi, the Woman Who Changes 
for she has the gift of renewing herself whenever she 
grows old. Her younger sister is Yolkai Estsan, the White 
Shell Woman. The white shell is her symbol; white is the 
color of dawn and the east, and she is related to the waters. 
She was to become the wife of the Moon-Carrier, Klehanoai. 



Hi-iya naiho-o! The earth is rumbling 
From the beating of our basket drums. 
The earth is rumbling from the beating 
Of our basket drums, everywhere humming. 
Earth is rumbling, everywhere raining. 

Hi-iya naiho-o! Pluck out the feathers 

From the wing of the eagle and turn them 
Toward the east where he the large clouds. 

Hi-iya naiho-o! Pluck out the soft down 
From the breast of the eagle and turn it 

Toward the west where sail the small clouds. 
Hi-iya naiho-o! Beneath the abode 

Of the rain gods it is thundering; 
Large corn is there. Hi-iya naiho-o! 

Beneath the abode of the rain gods 
It is raining; small corn is there. 

From Frank Russel, The Pima Indians, p. 333, The 
singing of this song is supposed to provoke rain. The sound 
of the basket drum urges die clouds to gather and the thun- 
der to rumble beneath the sky. The eagle down symbolizes 
clouds, its offering to the quarters makes the clouds drift 
in the wished-for direction. 


Is it for me to eat what food I have 
And all day sit idle? 

Is it for me to drink the sweet water poured out 
And all day sit idle? 
Is it for me to gaze upon my wife 
And all day sit idle? 
Is it for me to hold my child in my arms 
And all day sit idle? 

My desire was uncontrollable. 
It was the dizziness [of battle]; 
I ground it to powder and therewith I painted my face. 
It was the drunkenness of battle; 
I ground it to powder and therewith I tied my hair 

in a war knot. 
Then did I hold firm my well-strung bow and my 

smooth, straight-flying arrow. 
To me did I draw my far-striding sandals, and fast I 

tied them. 

Over the flat land did I then go striding, 
Over the embedded stones did I then go stumbling, 
Under the trees in the ditches did I go stooping, 
Through the trees on the high ground did I go 

Through the mountain gullies did I go brushing 


In four halts did I reach the shining white eagle, 
my guardian, 


And I asked power. 

Then favorable to me he felt 

And did bring forth his shining white stone. 

Our enemy's mountain he made white as with 


And brought them close, 
And across them I went striding. 

In four halts did I reach the blue hawk, my 


And I asked power. 
The hawk favorable to me he felt 
And did bring forth his blue stone. 
Our enemy's waters he made white as with moonlight, 
And around them I went striding. 
There did I seize and pull up and make into a bundle 
Those things which were my enemy's, 
All kinds of seeds and beautiful clouds and beautiful 


Then came forth a thick stalk and a thick tassel, 
And the undying seed did ripen. 
This I did on behalf of my people. 
Thus should you also think and desire, 
All you my kinsmen. 

From Ruth Underbill, Singing for Power, the Song Magic 
of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona, pp. 68-9. A 
delightful little volume that should be in the hands of 
everybody who wishes to gain some insight into the Indian's 




Where the mountain crosses, 
On top o the mountain, 

I do not myself know where. 
I wandered where my mind and my heart 

seemed to be lost. 
I wandered away. 

From Frances Densmore, Papago Music, p. 206. 



In the great night my heart -will go out. 
Toward me the darkness conies rattling, 
In the great night my heart will go out. 

From ibid., p. i6. A song of Owl Woman. 



In the east is the dwelling of the sun. 

On top of this dwelling place 

The sun comes up and travels over our heads. 

Below we travel. 

I raise my right hand to the sun 

And then stroke my body 

In the ceremonial manner. 

From ibid., p. 137. This song belongs to a Dance in Sup- 
plication to the Sun. 




Close to the west the great ocean is singing. 
The waves are rolling toward me, covered with 

many clouds. 

Even here I catch the sound. 
The earth is shaking beneath me and I hear the 

deep rumbling. 

A cloud on top of Evergreen Mountain is singing, 
A cloud on top of Evergreen Mountain is 

standing still, 

It is raining and thundering up there, 
It is raining here, 

Under the mountain the corn tassels are shaking, 
Under the mountain the horns of the child corn 

are glistening. 

From ibid. f pp. 140-1. Songs of the Viikita Ceremony, 
performed in order to secure rain and good crops. 




On winter nights, when we had finished our gruel 
or rabbit stew and lay back on our mats, my brothers 
would say to my father: "My father, tell us some- 

My father would lie quietly upon his mat with my 
mother beside him and the baby between them. At 
last he would start slowly to tell us about how the 
world began. This is a story that can be told only in 
winter when there are no snakes about, for if the 
snakes heard they could crawl in and bite you. But 
in winter when snakes are asleep, we tell these things. 
Our story about the world is full of songs, and when 
the neighbors heard my father singing they would 
open our door and step in over the high threshold. 
Family by family they came, and we made a big fire 
and kept the door shut against the cold night. When 
my father finished a sentence we would all say the last 
word after him. If anyone went to sleep he would 
stop. He would not speak any more. But we did not 
go to sleep. . . . 

My father was a song maker, and he had visions 
even if he was not a medicine man. He always made 
a song for the big harvest festival, the one that keeps 
the world going right and that only comes every four 

We all went then from all over our country to the 
Place of the Burnt Seeds. We camped together, many, 

many families, and we made images of the beautiful 
things that make life good for the desert people, like 
clouds and corn and squash and deer. The men sang 
about these things and my father made songs. .When I 
was about eight years old, my father once made an 
image of a mountain out of cactus ribs covered with 
white cloth. He had dreamed about this mountain and 
this is the song he made: 

There is a white shell mountain in the ocean 
Rising half out of the water. 
Green scum floats on the water 
And the mountain turns around. 

The song is very short because we understand so 
much. We can understand how tall and white the 
mountain was, and that white shell is something preci- 
ous, such as the handsome men of old used to have 
for their necklaces, and it would shine all across the 
earth as they walked. We understand that as that 
mountain turns, it draws the clouds and the birds un- 
til they all float around it. 


At last the giant cactus grew ripe on all the hills. It 
made us laugh to see the fruit on top of all the stalks. 
. . . We went to pick it, to the same place where we 
always camped, and every day my mother and all the 
women went out with baskets. They knocked the 
fruit down with cactus poles. It fell on the ground and 
all the red pulp came out. Then I picked it up and 
dug it out of the shell with my fingers, and put it in 
*ny mother's basket. She told me always to throw down 


the skins with the red inside uppermost, because that 
would bring the rain. 

It was good at cactus camp. When my father lay 
down to sleep at night he would sing a song about 
the cactus liquor. And we could hear songs in my un- 
cle's camp across the hill. Everybody sang. We felt as 
if a beautiful thing was coming. Because the rain was 
coming and the dancing and the songs. 

Where on Quijota Mountain a cloud stands 
There my heart stands with it. 
Where the mountain trembles with the thunder 
My heart trembles with it. 

That was what they sang. When I sing that song 
yet it makes me dance. 

Then the little rains began to come. We had jugs 
of the juice my mother had boiled. . . . And we 
drank it to pull down the clouds, for that is what we 
call it. 

From R. Underbill, The Autobiography of a Papago 
Woman, pp. 10-1, 22-3. 



At the edge of the world 
It is growing light. 
Up rears the light. 
Just yonder the day dawns, 
Spreading over the night. 

From Ruth Underbill, Singing for Power, p. 27. "Song 
was not simply self-expression. It was a magic which called 
upon the powers of Nature and constrained them to man's 
will People sang in trouble, in danger, to cure the sick, to 
confound their enemies, and to make the crops grow." p. 5. 



Sun, my relative 

Be good coming out 

Do something good for us. 

Make me work, 

So I can do anything in the garden 

I hoe, I plant corn, I irrigate. 

You, sun, be good going down at sunset 
We lay down to sleep I want to feel good. 

While I sleep you come up. 
Go on your course many times. 
Make good things for us men. 

Make me always the same as I am now. 

This literal translation is from Leslie Spier, Havasupai 
Ethnography, p. 86. 




My father once cured me with his ceremony. I was a 
pretty small boy. I can hardly remember it. My father 
says that I must have been about six years old. . . . 

I got very, very sick. My mother and my father 
thought I was going to die. This was out in the moun- 
tains. Of course, my father knew in his own way how 
to use his power and cure people. So my father went 
to work on me during part of the day and a good 
part of the night, I know. While he was carrying on 
the ceremony for me, I went blind, completely blind. 

Well, he got me a little better from my sickness, but 
after I got well I was blind. It seemed as though my 
eyes were back in my head, and they hurt badly. It 
looked as though a different sickness had come over 
my eyes. It was just as though something was turning 
way back in my head. 

My father was very good at the masked-dancer cere- 
mony. . . . 

He had the mask in his right hand and was shaking 
it in front of me. He was singing those ceremonial 
songs. Every time he sang a song he held that mask 
to my head this way and that, to my eyes and all over 
me. I was half-sitting up, on a slant. I couldn't see, 
but I knew what Ke was doing and what he was say- 
ing. I remember it. 

And my father was crying half of the time; I could 
hear him. He said, "Why not punish me this way? 
I've lived here many years on earth. I've seen what 


it looks like. I know how hard it is to live through this 
world. Don't kill that poor little child. He didn't harm 
anyone. I love him. Don't let him go. I want him to 
live to an old age in this world." He said, "If you want 
to kill anybody in this family, kill me. Take me. I 
know you can help me relieve this poor child from his 
sickness, and there's no reason why you should act 
this way to me." He was angry about this, angry at 
his own power. I heard him arguing with his power. 
He tried pretty hard. "Well," he said to his power, "if 
you aren't going to do what I want you to do, if you're 
going to have your own way all the time, you might 
as well stop talking to me from now on." He was 
scolding his power. . . . 

From Morris Edward Opler, An Apache Life Way, The 
Economic, Social, and Religious Institutions of the Chiri~ 
cahua Indians, p. 39. On the whole, the problem of the 
Theodicy did not exist for the Indian. He did not believe 
in an all-powerful God who, single-handedly, had created 
earth and man. Therefore he had not to rack his head as 
to how to reconcile the idea of a good and omnipotent 
God with the evil in the world. However, here and there 
we find traces of this problem in its incipient stage as, for 
instance, in the story above. Compare also the passionate 
account of the Fox Indian who reproaches the manitou 
(page 149). Another example is given by Frances Densmore, 
who recorded the death song of a Sioux: in the hour of his 
death he becomes aware that his guardian spirit had mis- 
guided him, and thus he sings sadly with his last strength: 
"Large Bear 
Deceives me." (Chippewa Music II, p. 80.) 



Sung during the Girls' Puberty Rites 


I come to White Painted Woman, 

By means of long life I come to her. 

I come to her by means of her blessing, 

I come to her by means of her good fortune, 

I come to her by means of all her different fruits. 

By means of the long life she bestows, I come 

to her. 
By means of this holy truth she goes about. 


I am about to sing this song of yours, 

The song of long life. 

Sun, I stand here on the earth with your song, 

Moon, I have come in with your song. 

White Painted Woman's power emerges, 

Her power for sleep. 

White Painted Woman carries this girl; 

She carries her through long life, 

She carries her to good fortune, 

She carries her to old age, 

She hears her to peaceful sleep. 



You have started out on the good earth; 
You have started out with good moccasins; 
With moccasin strings of the rainbow, you have 

started out. 
With moccasin strings of the sun rays, you have 

started out. 
In the midst of plenty you have started out. 

From ibid., pp. 119, 1*8, 130. The Puberty Ceremony for 
Girls, as performed by the and led by the 
Masked Dancers, is, essentially, a prayer for long life and 
in order to obtain this blessing of all blessings, songs are 
sung over the girl which first are to conduct her to the 
"holy home" and from there symbolically through a long 
and successful life. The ceremony lasts four nights and is 
concluded in the face of the rising sun of the fifth day 
with Song 4, "a graceful apotheosis of the life-journey upon 
which the adolescent girl has embarked." White Fainted 
Woman is associated with earth and is the power that sym- 
bolizes the feminine principle. 





Maiden, you talk kindly to me, 
You, I shall surely remember it, 

I shall surely remember you alone, 

Your words are so kind, 
You, I shall surely remember it. 


My sweetheart, we surely could have gone home, 

But you were afraid! 

When it was night we surely could have gone 

But you were afraidl 

From ibid, p. 135. Toward morning of the first three 
nights of the Puberty Rite for girls the sacred songs change 
into social ones. The songs of the third dawn may be called 
true love songs, and one of the informants said to Opler: 
"We like them best of all. People just fall in love there 
singing them." 




Big Blue Mountain Spirit, 

The home made of blue clouds, 

The cross made of the blue mirage, 

There, you have begun to live, 

There, is the life of goodness, 

I am grateful for that made of goodness there. 

Big Yellow Mountain Spirit in the south, 
Your spiritually hale body is made of yellow clouds; 
Leader of the Mountain Spirits, holy Mountain Spirit, 
You live by means of the good of this life. 

Big White Mountain Spirit in the west, 

Your spiritually hale body is made of the white mirage; 

Holy Mountain Spirit, leader of the Mountain Spirits, 

I am happy over your words, 

You are happy over my words. 

Big Black Mountain Spirit in the north, 

Your spiritually hale body is made of black clouds; 

In that way, Big Black Mountain Spirit, 

Holy Mountain Spirit, leader of the Mountain Spirits, 

I am happy over your words, 

You are happy over my words, 

Now it is good. 

From Harry Hoijer, Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache 
Texts, p. 69. The Mountain Spirits are supernaturals who 
dwell within the interior of the mountains, where they 
live a life much as the Apache used to do in aboriginal 


times. Some of the Mountain Spirits appear as the Masked 
Dancers (gahd) during the adolescence ceremonies for girls; 
they also cure and punish. The prayer given above indi- 
cates the happy fellowship that exists between the super- 
naturals and the shaman. It is the "word" that re-establishes 
the rapport between the spirit and the human being and 
expresses to perfection their reciprocal need. See Ethno- 
graphical Notes, pp. 143, 155. This creative comradeship 
between deity and man is expressed still more distinctly in 
another song: 

"He performs the ceremony with me; 
The ceremony has begun with me; 
He is happy over me, I am happy over him; 
My songs will go out . . ." 




Long ago, the Indians were traveling. And some old 
woman was among them. And it seems they did not 
like her. 

Then it seems they spoke thus: "This old woman is 
good for nothing," they said. Then they had spoken 
thus. "This old woman is good for nothing," they said; 
"therefore, let's abandon her," they said. Then they 
had abandoned her. 

Then it seems she wept. Then these Mountain Spir- 
its came to her. And they spoke thus to her: "Why are 
you weeping?" they said to her. 

"I weep because they have abandoned me," she said. 
"I cannot see, I cannot hear, and I cannot speak. For 
that reason, I weep." 

Then they began to sing for her. And she who had 
been blind, her eyes were made to open. She who had 
been deaf began to hear again. She who had been 
blind was made to see again. 

Then they spoke thus to her: "This that we have 
done is good. When you return, tell them about it," 
they said to her. 

Then she performed all of the ceremony they had 
done for her in exactly their way. And in that way she 

Then she performed all of that which had been 
given to her in exactly their way. And, in this way, 
the ceremony came to be customarily performed. 

From ibid., p. 33. This text the translation of which is 

as literal as could be is, from an ethnological point of view, 
interesting in several points- (i) The hardships of a no- 
madic life necessitated occasionally the abandonment of the 
aged and the sick among various tribes of the North Ameri- 
can Indians. (2) A person cured by some supernatural 
agency inaugurates a curing ceremony. (3) Women as well 
as men can conduct ceremonies. 


When the earth was made; 

When the sky was made; 

When my songs were first heard; 

The holy mountain was standing toward me with life. 

At the center of the sky, the holy boy walks four ways 

with life. 
Just mine, my mountain became; standing toward me 

with life. 
Gan 1 children became; standing toward me with life. 

When the sun goes down to the earth, 

Where Mescal Mountain lies with its head toward the 

Black spruce became; standing up with me. 


Right at the center of the sky the holy boy with life 

walks in four directions. 
Lightning with life in four colors comes down four 


The place which is called black spot with life; 
The place which is called blue spot with life; 
The place which is called yellow spot with life; 
The place which is called white spot with life; 
They have heard about me, 

1 The Apache call their Masked Dancers "Gan." 

The black Cans dance in four places. 
The sun starts down toward the earth. 

The living sky black-spotted; 

The living sky blue-spotted; 

The living sky yellow-spotted; 

The living sky white-spotted; 

The young spruce as girls stood up for their dance in 

the way of life. 
When my songs first were, they made my songs with 

wordg of jet. 
Earth when it was made, 
Sky when it was made, 
Earth to the end, 
Sky to the end. 
Black Gan, black thunder, when they came toward 

each other, 

The various bad things that used to be vanished. 
The bad wishes which were in the world vanished. 
The lightning of black thunder struck four times for 

It struck four times for me. 


When first my songs became, 

When the sky was made, 

When the earth was made, 

The breath of the Gans on me made only of down; 

When they heard about my life; 

Where they got their life; 


When they heard about me; 
It stands. 

The day broke with slender rain. 

The place which is called "lightning's water stands," 

The place which is called "where the dawn strikes," 

Four places where it is called "it dawns with life," 

I land there. 

The sky boys, I go among them. 

He came to me with long life. 

When he talked over my body with the longest life, 

The voice of thunder spoke well four times. 

Holy sky boy spoke to me four times. 

When he talked to me my breath became. 

From Pliny Earle Goddard, The Masked Dancers of the 
Apache, p. 132 et seq. These songs are sung during the 
adolescence rites for girls. The Masked Dancers represent 
the gods. Symbolism of colors and numbers is highly devel- 
oped with the Apache. See the following song. 



The black turkey gobbler, under the east, the middle 

of his trail; toward us it is about to dawn. 
The black turkey gobbler, the tips of his beautiful tail; 

above us the dawn whitens. 
The black turkey gobbler, the tips of his beautiful 

tail; above us the dawn becomes yellow. 
The sunbeams stream forward, dawn boys, with 

shimmering shoes of yellow. 
On top of the sunbeams that stream toward us they 

are dancing. 
At the east the rainbow moves forward, dawn maidens, 

with shimmering shoes and shirts of yellow dance 

over us. 
Beautifully over us it is dawning. 

Above us among the mountains the herbs are 

becoming green. 
Above us on the top of the mountains the herbs are 

becoming yellow. 

Above us among the mountains, with shoes of yellow 
I go around the fruits and the herbs that shimmer. 

Above us among the mountains, the shimmering fruits 
with shoes and shirts of yellow are bent toward 

On the beautiful mountains above it is daylight. 

From P. E. Goddard, Gotal: A Mescalero Apache Cere- 
mony, p. 393. This is the 5gd. song of an adolescence rite 

for girls; in the main, this ceremony is a dramatic represen- 
tation of the creation and of the seasonal recreations of na- 
ture. To sing of the day that dawns and of the things that 
grow and mature will assure long life not only to the girl 
that stands at the threshold of womanhood, but to all mem- 
bers of the community. 



From the Pueblos 



O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky, 
Your children are we, and with tired backs 
We bring you the gifts you love. 
Then weave for us a garment of brightness; 
May the warp be the white light of morning, 
May the weft be the red light of evening, 
May the fringes be the falling rain, 
May the border be the standing rainbow. 
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness, 
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing, 
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green, 
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky. 

From Herbert J. Spinden, Songs of the Tewa, p. 94. The 
Tewa Indians belong to a group of Tanoan tribes inhabit- 
ing the following pueblos: Namb6, San Ildefonso, San Juan, 
Santa Clara, and Tesuque, all in New Mexico, and Hano 
in northeastern Arizona. The sky loom, as Dr. Spinden 
points out, refers to the small desert rain, so characteristic 
of this part of the country: like wandering looms the rain- 
showers hang from the sky. And the warp of the glittering 
web seems like soft silver and the weft like amber or roseate 
rays in the reflection of the late afternoon sun. 



My home over there, my home over there, 
My home over there, now I remember it! 
And when I see that mountain far away, 
Why, then I weep. Alas! what can I do? 
What can I do? Alas! What can I do? 
My home over there, now I remember it. 

Prom ibid., p. 73. "The Tewa Indian," says Dr. Spinden 
in a note on page 114, "easily becomes homesick even when 
distant a few miles from his native village." 




My little breath, under the willows by the waterside 

we used to sit, 

And there the yellow cottonwood bird came and sang. 
That I remember and therefore I weep. 
Under the growing corn we used to sit, 
And there the little leaf bird came and sang. 
That I remember and therefore I weep. 
There on the meadow of yellow flowers we used to 


Oh, my little breath! Oh, my little heart! 
There on the meadow of blue flowers we used to walk. 
Alas! how long ago that we two walked in that 

pleasant way. 

Then everything was happy, but, alas! how long ago. 
There on the meadow of crimson flowers we used to 

Oh, my little breath, now I go there alone in sorrow. 

From ibid., p. 73. Says Spinden in his interesting preface 
to this very valuable collection: "Love songs, except those 
which are supposed to have a magical and coercive quality 
of gaining affections and which might better be called love 
medicine, are not common among the tribes of the Great 
Plains. Nor are such songs listed by Ruth Bunzel among 
the kinds in use at Zufii. The Tewa have them. . . . While 
these (love songs] are clearly enough of Indian composition, 
I believe the ultimate inspiration to have been Spanish." 
p. 35. The text given here is the close translation of a love 
song H. J. Spinden secured from the village of Santa Clara. 




They were coming up from Shipap. One of their 
children became sick and they did not know what was 
the trouble with him. They had never seen sickness 
before. They said to the Shkoyo [curing society] chief, 
"Perhaps our Mother in Shipap will help us. Go 
back and ask her to take away this trouble." He went 
back to our Mother and she said to him, "The child 
is dead. If your people did not die, the world would 
fill up and there would be no place for you to live. 
When you die, you will come back to Shipap to live 
with me. Keep on traveling and do not be troubled 
when your people die." 

He returned to his people and told them what our 
Mother had said. In those days they treated one an- 
other as brothers, all the Indians of all the Pueblos. 
They planted corn with the digging stick and they 
were never tired; they dug trenches to irrigate their 
fields. The corn ripened in one day. When they came 
to Frijoles they separated, and the different pueblos 
went 'their own ways. 

From Ruth Benedict, Tales of the Cochiti Indians, p. 5. 
The counsel of the Mother who resides at Shipap the place 
of emergence and the realm of the dead is quite in keeping 
with Pueblo philosophy. Excessive mourning is harmful and 
will interfere with the welfare not only of the living, but 
also of the dead. In another Cochiti story we hear that a 
child that had died could not find rest because her mother 
did not stop crying. Thus the chief priest of Shipap sent 


two messengers to the mother to let her know that "she 
should forget and not remember her daughter any more," 
for only then the child could go to the place where all 
Indians go to Shipap. Pp. 131, 205. 



Part I 

All the white-cloud eagles, 

Lift me up with your wings and take me to Shipap. 

And also you other eagles, 

Come and lift me up with your wings, 'way up high, 

all over the world; no one can see the place where 

you are taking me. 
'Way down in the southwest where our fathers and 

mothers have gone, 
Put me there with your wings. 

Part II 

Thanks to Mother Earth, the whole world, and 

Mother Eagle. 
Bless my people. 
I am the spirit. 
I am leaving for my own place where I shall be happy 

all my life. 

I shall remember you people all the time. 
I thank you all. 

From Frances Densmore, Music of Santo Domingo Pueblo 
New Mexico, pp. 67-8. After the burial has taken place, 
"the medicine men shake their rattles first in a tremolo, 
then in a steady beat as they sing this song. With Part I of 
the song, two medicine men ... go over to the people and 
hold the eagle wings in front of die people as though lift- 
ing the person and wafting him on his way. With Part II 
they go back ... to the sacred articles beside the altar, 
and pray and give thanks." 


I am on the way, 

traveling the road to where the spirits live, 

at Shipap. 

I look at the road, far ahead, down that way. 

Nothing happens to me, as I am a spirit. 

I am a spirit, of course I am, 

as I go on the nice clean road to Shipap. 

It is true that my spirit meets the others 

who come towards me. 

I am glad to see them and be with them, 

I have a right to be there. 

I cannot help it; I must leave because the spirit 

has called me back. 

I must go, I must obey. 

So I am going direct to my spirit. 

There are places down there where all the people 

live whom you have seen; 

they have gone, when the time has come. 

Now I cannot say what they will make of me. 

I may take the form of a cloud; 

I wish I could be a cloud. 

I take the chance of whatever is offered to me. 

When a cloud comes this way, you will say, 

"That is he!" 

When I get to the place of spirits, 

I will hear everything you ask. 

You must always remember me. 


You have talked about me, 

and in Shipap I can hear everything you say. 

I am a spirit and I bless you. 

I thank you for all you have done for me in past years 

I hope to see you some day. 

We send you many good wishes, many good things. 

Thank you. 

From ibid., p. 69. 




In the west at Flower Mountain 

A rain priest sits 

His head feathered with cumulus clouds. 

His words are of clouding over Itawana. 

"Come let us arise now." 

Thus along the shores of the encircling ocean 

The rain makers say to one another. 

Aha ehe 

Aha ehe 

In the south at Salt Lake Mountain 

A rain priest sits 

His head feathered with mist. 

His words are of covering Itawana with rain. 

"Come let us go." 

Thus in all the springs 

The rain makers say to one another. 

Aha ehe 

Aha ehe 

"The beautiful world germinates. 

The sun, the yellow dawn germinate." 

Thus the corn plants say to one another. 

They are covered with dew. 

"The beautiful world germinates. 

The sun, the yellow dawn germinate." 

Thus the corn plants say to one another. 

They bring forth their young. 

Aha ehe 

Aha ehe! 


From Ruth L Bunzel, Zunt Katcina: An Analytical Study, 
p. 891. The Katcinas are supernaturals, identified with the 
dead and at the same time associated with clouds and rain. 
They are believed to live in a lake near Zufii and to visit 
the village from time to time. They are impersonated in 
masks which the dancers wear during the Katcina ceremo- 
nies, the underlying idea of which is the desire to fertilize 
the earth and to call for the needed rain. Itawana desig- 
nates the realm of the dead. 



Now this is the day. 

Our child, 

Into the daylight 

You will go out standing. 

Preparing for your day, 

We have passed our days. 

When all your days were at an end, 

When eight days were past, 

Our sun father 

Went in to sit down at his sacred place. 

And our night fathers, 

Having come out standing to their sacred place, 

Passing a blessed night. 

Now this day, 

Our fathers, Dawn priests, 

Have come out standing to their sacred place, 

Our sun father, 

Having come out standing to his sacred place, 

Our child, it is your day. 

This day, 

The flesh of the white corn, prayer meal, 

To our sun father 

This prayer meal we offer. 

May your road he fulfilled. 

Reaching to the road of your sun father, 

When your road is fulfilled, 

In your thoughts may we live, 

May we be the ones whom your thoughts will 


For this, on this day 
To our sun father, 
We offer prayer meal. 
To this end: 
May you help us all to finish our roads. 

From Ruth L. Bunzel, Zuni Ritual Poetry, p 635. The 
Zuni child is born amid prayer and solemn ceremony. 
Mathilde Stevenson describes in detail the beautiful cere- 
mony of presenting the child to the cosmic power, the sun. 
In her "Religious Life of the Zuni Child," p. 546, she 
says: ". . . On the morning of the tenth day the child is 
taken from its bed of sand, . . . and upon the left arm of 
the paternal grandmother is carried for the first time into 
the presence of the rising sun. To the breast of the child 
the grandmother carrying it presses the ear of corn which 
lay by its side during the ten days; to her left the mother 
o the infant walks, carrying in her left hand the ear of 
corn which lay at her side. Both women sprinkle a line of 
sacred meal, emblematic of the straight road which the child 
must follow to win the favor of its gods. Thus the first ob- 
ject which the child is made to behold at the very dawn of 
its existence is the sun, the great object of their worship, 
and long ere the little lips can lisp a prayer it is repeated 
for it by the grandmother." 



Prayer of the Fire Keeper at the 
Winter Solstice 


Yonder toward the east 

"With prayers 

We made our road go forth. 

How the world will be 

How the days will be 

We desired to know. 

Perhaps if we are lucky 

Our earth mother 

Will wrap herself in a fourfold robe 

Of white meal, 

Full of frost flowers. 

A floor of ice will spread over the world, 

The forests. 

The flesh of our earth mother 

Will crack with cold. 

Then in the spring when she is replete with 

living waters 

All different kinds of corn 
In our earth mother 
"We shall lay to rest. 
"With our earth mother's living waters 
Into their sun father's daylight 
They will come out standing; 
Yonder to all directions 
They will stretch out their hands calling 

for rain. 


Then with their fresh waters 

The rain makers will pass us on our roads. 

Clasping their young ones in their arms 

They will rear their children. 

Gathering them into our houses, 

With our thoughts following them, 

Thus we shall always live. 

That this may be 

Eagerly we have awaited your day. 

That yonder to where the life-giving road 

of your sun father comes 
Your roads may reach; 
That you may finish your roads; 
For this I add to your breath. 
To this end, my fathers, 
My children, 
May all of you be blessed with light. 

From ibid. f pp. 640-2. 



. . . They came. They brought the ones who had 
been killed by the white people. My aunts were with 
me. My mother, my father, my aunts, held me and 
went with me. I came there; I was pregnant. They 
would not let me see him, my husband. Only my 
mother saw him. She told me. It was not good. . . . 
So they buried them in the graveyard, just before 

. . . My grandfather took care of me. "It is very 
dangerous; you must fast. You must drink medicine. 
You must vomit. It is very dangerous. No one may 
touch you. It is very dangerous, you must fast. No one 
must touch you. You must stay alone. You must sit 
alone in the corner. Only your little boy may hold 
you. No one must touch you." Grandfather gathered 
medicine for me. This he soaked. He mixed it in a 
fine bowl. He brewed medicine. "This you will drink. 
You will vomit," he said to me. I was very wretched. 
This was very dangerous. When it was still early, when 
the sun had not yet risen, my grandfather took me far 
away. We scattered prayerrneal. Here in the left hand 
I had black prayermeal, and here the right kind of 
prayerrneal. When we had gone far I passed it four 
times over my head and scattered it. One should not 
speak. Again with this, I sprinkled prayermeal with a 

My fathers, 
Our Sun Father. 


Our mother, Dawn, 

Coming out standing to your sacred place, 

Somewhere we shall pass you on your road. 

This from which we form our flesh, 

The white corn, 



Corn pollen, 

I offer to you. 

To the Sun who is our father, 

To you I offer it 

To you, I offer prayermeal. 

To you, I offer corn pollen. 

According to the words of my prayer, 

So may it be. 

May there be no deviation. 

Sincerely from my heart I send forth my prayers. 

To you, prayermeal, shell, I offer. 

Corn pollen I offer. 

According to the words of my prayer, 

So may it be. 

I would sprinkle prayermeal. I would inhale from 
the prayermeal. I would sprinkle the right kind of 
prayermeal. . . . 

All alone I sat. I did not eat meat, nor salt, nor 
grease. I fasted from meat. It was very dangerous. 
Much my aunt, my grandfather exhorted me. When I 
was young, they said to me, "Fortunate you are to be 
alive. Sometimes you will be happy because of some- 
thing. Sometimes you will be sorrowful. You will cry. 
This kind of person you shall be. You are fortunate 
to be alive." . . . And just so I have lived. ... If 


one's husband dies one will not sleep. She will lie 
down as if she sleeps, and when sleep overcomes her 
she will sleep. But after a little while she will wake, 
and will not sleep. She will cry, she will be lonely. She 
will not care to eat. She will take thought of what to 
do and where to go. When a child or a relative dies, 
one cries for them properly. Husband and wife talk 
together to relieve their thoughts. Then they will for- 
get their trouble. But when one's husband dies there 
is no happiness. . . . 

It was very dangerous. It was the same as when an 
enemy dies, it was very dangerous. Four mornings I 
vomited. And so many days I sprinkled prayermeal 
far off, four times. And so many days I fasted. I was 
still a young woman . . . 

For one year I would cry. I was thoughtful for my 
old husband. Then father spoke with me. Then I was 
happy. I did not worry. My uncle desired it for me. 
"It is all right, niece. Do not cry. It cannot be helped. 
It is ever thus. Do not think of where you have come 
from, but rather look forward to where you are to 
go . . -" 

From Ruth Bunzel, Zuni Texts, pp. 93 



From where you stay quietly, 

Your little wind-blown clouds, 

Your fine wisps of clouds, 

Your massed clouds you will send forth 

to sit down with us; 
With your fine rain caressing the earth, 
With all your waters 
You will pass to us on our roads. 
With your great pile of waters, 
With your fine rain caressing the earth, 
You will pass to us on our roads. 
My fathers, 
Add to your hearts. 
Your waters, 
Your seeds, 
Your long life, 
Your old age 
You will grant to us. 
Therefore I have added to your hearts, 
To the end, my fathers, 
My children: 
You will protect us. 
All my ladder-descending children 
Will finish their roads; 
They will grow old. 
You will bless us with life. 

From Ruth Bunzel, Zuni Ritual Poetry, pp. 622-3. Zufii 

prayers, says Ruth Bunzel, are highly formalized in content 
and mode of expression. Most of the prayers are requests 
accompanying offerings. "They have three sections, which 
always appear in the same order: A statement of the occa- 
sion, a description of the offering, and the request." The 
part from the Prayer to the Ancients brought here is the 
third one. The dead, the ancients, are believed to be the 
rain makers. They come back to the living in the rain 
clouds, bringing the blessing of life and fruitfulness. The 
offering of food to the dead forms an important part of the 
Zufii household ritual. Before each meal a bit of food is 
scattered on the floor or thrown into the fire, accompanied 
by a short prayer. No child is weaned until he is able to 
make this offering by himself and utter his prayer to the 




Before the beginning of the new-making, Awonawi- 
lona solely had being. There was nothing else what- 
soever throughout the great spaces of the ages save 
everywhere black darkness in it, and everywhere void 

In the beginning of the new-made, Awonawilona 
conceived within himself and thought outward in 
space, whereby mists of increase, steams potent of 
growth, were evolved and uplifted. Thus, by means of 
his innate knowledge, the All-Container made himself 
in person and form of the Sun, whom we hold to be 
our father and who thus came to exist and appear. 
With his appearance came the brightening of the 
spaces with light, and with the brightening of the 
spaces the great mist-clouds were thickened and fell, 
whereby evolved water in water; yea, and the world- 
holding sea. "With his substance of flesh outdrawn 
from the surface of his person, the Sun Father formed 
the seed-stuff of twin-worlds impregnating therewith 
the great waters, and lol in the heat of his light these 
waters of the sea grew green and scums grew upon 
them waxing wide and weighty until, behold! they be- 
came Awitelin Ts'ta, the "Fourfold-Containing Mother 
Earth," and Apoyan Tachu, the "All-Covering Father 
Sky." From the lying together of these twain upon the 
great world-waters, so vitalizing, terrestrial life was 
conceived; whence began all beings of earth, men and 
the creatures, in the Fourfold Womb of the Earth. 
Thereupon the Earth Mother repulsed the Sky Father, 


growing big and sinking deep into the embrace of the 
waters below, thus separating from the Sky Father in 
the embrace of the waters above. . . . 

Now, like all the surpassing beings, the Earth Mother 
and the Sky Father were changeable, even as smoke in 
the wind; transmutable at thought, manifesting them- 
selves in any form at will, like as dancers may by mask 
making . . . Thus as a man and a woman, spake they, 
one to another: 

"Behold," said the Earth Mother, as a great terraced 
bowl appeared at her hand and within it water, "this 
is as upon me the homes of my tiny children shall be. 
On the rim of each world country they wander in, 
terraced mountains shall stand, . . . whereby country 
shall be known from country, and within each, place 
from place. Behold again!" said she as she spat on die 
water, and rapidly smote and stirred it with her fin- 
gers. Foam formed, gathering about the terraced rim, 
mounting higher and higher. "Yea," she said, "and 
from my bosom they shall draw nourishment, for in 
such as this shall they find the substance of life whence 
we were ourselves sustained. For seel" 

Then with her warm breath she blew across the 
terraces; white flecks of the foam broke away, and 
floating over above the water, were shattered by the 
cold breath of the Sky Father attending, and forth- 
with shed downward abundantly fine mist and sprayl 
"Even so shall white clouds float up from the great 
waters at the borders of the world, and clustering 
about the mountain terraces of the horizons be borne 
aloft and abroad by the breaths of the surpassing soul 
beings, and of the children, and shall be hardened and 
broken by the cold, shedding downward, in rain spray, 


the water of life, even in the hollow places of my lap. 
For therein shall chiefly nestle our children, mankind 
and creature-kind, for warmth in thy coldness! Even 
the trees on high mountains near the clouds . . . crouch 
low toward Mother Earth for warmth and protection. 
"Even sol" said the Sky Father. "Yet not alone shalt 
thou be helpful unto our children, for beholdl" and 
he spread his hand abroad with the palm downward 
and into all the wrinkles and crevices thereof he set 
the semblance of shining yellow corn grains; in the 
dark of the early world-dawn they gleamed like sparks 
of fire and moved as his hand was moved over the 
bowl, shining up from and also moving in the depth 
of the water therein. 

From Frank Gushing, Outlines of Zufii Creation Myths, 
pp. 379 ff. According to Benedict, Gushing's translation of 
the Zufii myth of emergence is a "poeticized version that 
draws heavily upon his interpretative powers." Still, the 
philosophizings and schematic analogies of Gushing's tale 
"are characteristic of Zufii esoteric speculative attempts at 
synthesis of ceremonies, clans, societies, directions of the 
compass, colors and patron animals." (p. 256). For a literal 
version of this myth compare the translation by Ruth Ben- 
edict in her brilliant study in Zufit Mythology. 




White floating clouds. 

Clouds like the plains 

Come and water the earth. 

Sun, embrace the earth 

That she may be fruitful. 

Moon, lion of the north, 

Bear of the west, 

Badger of the south, 

Wolf of the east, 

Eagle of the heavens, shrew of the earth, 

Elder war hero, 

Warriors of the six mountains of the world, 

Intercede with the cloud people for us, 

That they may water the earth. 

Medicine bowl, cloud bowl, and water vase, 

Give us your hearts, 

That the earth may be watered. 

I make the ancient road of meal, 

That my song may straight pass ovei it the ancient 


White shell bead woman, 
Who lives where the sun goes down, 
Mother whirlwind, mother Sus'sistumako, 
Mother Ya-ya, creator of good thoughts, 
Yellow woman of the north, blue woman of the west. 
Red woman of the south, white woman of the east, 
Slightly yellow woman of the zenith, 
And dark woman of the nadir, 
I ask your intercession with the cloud people. 

From Mathilda Stevenson, The Sio, p. 130. 



My earliest memories of my real grandfather, Ho- 
mikniwa, are full of kind feelings. I slept with him 
much of the time. In the morning before sunrise he 
sang to me and told me stories. He took me to his 
fields, where I helped him to work or slept under a 
peach tree. Whenever he saw me make a circle he 
stepped cautiously around it, saying that he had to 
watch me lest I block his path with my antelope power. 
He kept reminding me of this power. He also took me 
through the fields to collect healing herbs. I watched 
him sprinkle corn meal and pray to the Sun God be- 
fore picking up leaves or berries or digging medicine 
roots. Whenever mothers brought their sick children 
to our house, I watched him take their pinches of meal, 
step outside, pray, and sprinkle them to the Sun God, 
Moon, or the stars, and to his special medicine god. 
Then he would return to the patient, blow upon his 
hands, and begin his treatment. He was respected by 
all. Even Mr. Voth, the missionary, came to him to 
learn about plants and herbs. He taught the white man 
many things. He also taught me almost all I ever 
learned about plants. He advised me to keep bad 
thoughts out of my mind, to face the east, look to the 
bright side of life, and learn to show a shining face 
even when unhappy. 

Mr. Voth and the Christians came to Oraibi and 
preached Jesus in the plaza where the Ratcinas danced. 
The old people paid no attention, but we children 
were told to receive any gifts and clothing. Mr. Voth 


never preached Christ to me alone but talked to us in 
groups. He said that Jesus Christ was our Saviour and 
suffered for our sins. He told us that Jesus was a good 
shepherd and that we were sheep or goats. We were to 
ask Jesus for whatever we wanted. Oranges and candy 
looked pretty good to me so I prayed for them. I said, 
"Jesus, give me some oranges and candy." Then I 
looked up into the sky, but I never saw him throw 
down anything to me. Mr. Voth claimed that our gods 
were not good but the old people pointed out to us 
that when the Katcinas danced in the Plaza, it often 
rained. Even as a child I was taught that the mission- 
aries had no business condemning our gods and that it 
might cause droughts and famine. 

One winter morning in February I saw a tall, strange 
Katcina coming into the village, blowing a bone whis- 
tle and uttering a long-drawn "Hu-hu-huhuhu" When 
he entered the Plaza women and children threw pinches 
of corn meal upon him and took sprigs of green corn 
and of spruce boughs from his tray. Two other Kat- 
cinas joined him near the kiva, where they were hold- 
ing a ceremony, blew tobacco smoke on the backs of 
the Katcinas, and sprinkled them with corn meal. A 
number of different Katcinas, some running cross- 
legged, came through the streets handing out gifts. 
Some of us received bows, arrows, rattles, and Katcina 
dolls. Other Katcinas came into the village bringing 
bean sprouts in their baskets. We were in the Plaza 
watching them. Suddenly my mother threw a blanket 
over my head. When she uncovered me the Katcinas 
were all gone and the people were looking up in the 
sky and watching them fly about they said. I looked 


up but could see nothing. My mother laughed and 
said that I must be blind. 

I later saw some giantlike Katcinas stalking into 
the village with long black bills and big sawlike teeth. 
One carried a rope to lasso disobedient children. He 
stopped at a certain house and called for a boy. "You 
have been naughty," he scolded. "You fight with other 
children. You kill chickens. You pay no attention to 
the old people. We have come to get you and eat you." 
The boy cried and promised to behave better. The 
giants became angrier and threatened to tie him up 
and take him away. But the boy's parents begged for 
his life and offered fresh meat in his place. The giant 
reached out his hand as if to grab the boy but took the 
meat instead. Placing it in his basket, he warned the 
boy that he would get just one chance to change his 
conduct. I was frightened and got out of sight. I heard 
that sometimes these giants captured boys and really 
ate them. 

By the time I was six ... I had learned to find my 
way about the mesa and to avoid graves, shrines, and 
harmful plants, to size up people, and to watch out 
for witches. I was above average height and in good 
health. My hair was clipped just above the eyes, but 
left long in back and tied in a knot at the nape of 
my neck. I had almost lost an eye. I wore silver ear- 
rings, a missionary shirt or one made of a flour sack, 
and was always bare-legged, except for a blanket in 
cold weather. When no whites were present, I went 
naked. I slept out on the housetop in summer and 
sometimes in the kiva with other boys in winter. I 
could help plant and weed, went out herding with my 


father, and was a kiva trader. I owned a dog and a cat, 
a small bow made by my father, and a few good ar- 
rows. Sometimes I carried stolen matches tucked in the 
hem of my shirt collar. I could ride a tame burro, kill 
a kangaroo rat, and catch small birds, but I could not 
make fire with a drill and I was not a good runner like 
the other fellows. But I had made a name for myself 
by healing people; and I had almost stopped running 
after my mother for her milk. 

[Don had been sent to a white man's school, and 
the results of this education after the first year he is 
summing up in this way:] 

On June the fourteenth my father came for me and 
we returned home, riding burros and bringing presents 
of calico, lamps, shovels, axes, and other tools. It was a 
joy to get home again, to see all my folks, and to tell 
about my experiences at school. I had learned many 
English words and could recite part of the Ten Com- 
mandments. I knew how to sleep on a bed, pray to 
Jesus, comb my hair, eat with a knife and fork, and 
use a toilet. I had learned that the world is round 
instead of flat, that it is indecent to go naked in the 
presence of girls. I had also learned that a person 
thinks with his head instead of his heart. 

[At the conclusion of the last year of the time he 
had spent in schools, and before his return to Hopi- 
land, Don expresses his feelings about the past and 
his future in these words:] 

As I lay on my blanket I thought about my school- 
days and all that I had learned. I could talk like a 
gentleman, read, write, and cipher. I could name all 


the states in the Union with their capitals, repeat the 
names of all the books in the Bible, quote a hundred 
verses of Scripture, sing more than two dozens of 
Christian hymns and patriotic songs, debate, shout 
football yells, swing my partners in square dances, bake 
bread, sew well enough to make a pair of trousers, and 
tell dirty Dutchman stories by the hour. It was impor- 
tant that I had learned how to get along with white 
men and earn money by helping them. But my death 
experience had taught me that I had a Hopi Spirit 
Guide whom I must follow if I wished to live. I wanted 
to become a real Hopi again, to sing the good old 
Katcina songs, and to feel free to make love without 
fear of sin or a rawhide. 

I had learned a great lesson and now knew that the 
ceremonies handed down by our fathers mean life and 
security, both now and hereafter. I regretted that I 
had ever joined the Y.M.C.A. and decided to set my- 
self against Christianity once and for all. I could see 
that the old people were right when they insisted that 
Jesus Christ might do for modern whites in a good 
climate, but that the Hopi gods had brought success 
to us in the desert ever since the world begun. 

With marriage I began a life of toil and discovered 
that education had spoiled me for making a living in 
the desert. I was not hardened to heavy work in the 
heat and dust, and I did not know how to get rain, 
control winds, or even predict good and bad weather, 
I could not grow young plants in dry, wind-beaten, 
and worm-infested sand drifts; nor could I shepherd a 
flock of sheep through storm, drought, and disease. . . . 


"Talayesva," my uncles and fathers said, "you must 
stay home and work hard like the rest of us. Modern 
ways help a little; but the whites come and go, while 
we Hopi stay on forever. Corn is our mother and only 
the Cloud People can send rain to make it grow. . . . 
They come from the six directions to examine our 
hearts. If they are good they gather above us in cotton 
masks and white robes and drop rain to quench our 
thirst and nourish our plants. . . . Keep bad thoughts 
behind you and face the rising sun with a cheerful 
spirit, as did our ancestors in the days of plenty. Then 
rain fell on all the land." . . . 

I thought I would be willing to go back to the very 
beginning of Hopi life, wear native clothes, and hunt 
wild deer. I let my hair grow long, tied it in a knot at 
the nape of my neck, and stored my citizen's clothes 
in a gunnysack. I ate old Hopi foods, practiced the 
Katcina and Wowochim songs, and brought sand up 
the mesa in my blanket to start a bean crop in the 

I joined herds with . . . three old men and had to 
go out and herd in the worst weather in sleet, snow, 
and rain when it was too cold to ride a horse, and 
when shepherd and flock had to run to keep warm. 
Strong winds drove sand into my face and eyes, filled 
my ears and nose, and made it difficult to eat my lunch 
without catching mouthfuls of grit. My clothes were 
often heavy with sand and chafed me as I walked. . . . 
Dust and snowstorms scattered my flock and forced me 
to search days for stray animals. . . . Storms frequently 
caught sheep in labor or drove them from newborn 
lambs. These young things were beaten about and 
often killed by hail, water, and wind. I would gather 


wet, shivering lambs in my arms and bury them up to 
their eyes in warm, dry sand from a sheltered bank. I 
studied clouds and paid close attention to my dreams 
in order to escape being trapped by storms too far 
from shelter. 

In July I was happy to bring a few sweet-corn stalks 
into the village for the Niman Dance. I made dolls 
and tied them to cattail stems while my mother pre- 
pared little plaques three inches across. We took these 
things up on the roof and presented them to the hawks 
on the day of Niman. We feasted and danced all day 
and presented sweet corn, dolls, and other gifts to the 
children. The Katcinas were sent away at sunset with 
urgent prayers for rain upon our drooping crops. 
Nearly every man broke off a spruce bough to plant 
in his cornfield. Next morning we choked the hawks 
to send them home, plucked their feathers, tied pahos 
to their necks, wings, and feet, took them out in the 
direction whence they came, and buried them with 
corn meal. We told them to hasten home and send us 
rain. I then took a spruce bough to my cornfield, set 
it in the sand, held meal in my right hand, and prayed 
silently to the sun, moon, and stars for a good crop. 
I also sprinkled a path of corn meal and wished for 
rain, taking care not to step on the meal. When it 
did rain, the ceremonial officer said that it was proof 
that our prayers had reached the Six Point Cloud Peo- 

The land was very dry, the crops suffered, and even 
the Snake Dance failed to bring much rain. We tried 
to discover the reason for our plight, and remembered 


the Rev. Voth who had stolen so many of our ceremo- 
nial secrets and had even carried off sacred images and 
altars to equip a museum and become a rich man. 
When he had worked here in my boyhood, the Hopi 
were afraid of him and dared not lay their hands on 
him or any other missionary, lest they be jailed by the 
whites. During the ceremonies this wicked man would 
force his way into the kiva and write down everything 
he saw. He wore shoes with solid heels, and when the 
Hopis tried to put him out of the kiva he would kick 
them. He came back to Oraibi on a visit and took 
down many more names. Now I was grown, educated 
in the whites' school, and had no fear of this man. 
When I heard that he was in my mother's house I 
went over and told him to get out. I said: "You break 
the commandments of your own God. He has ordered 
you never to steal or to have any other Gods before 
him. He has told you to avoid all graven images; but 
you have stolen ours, and set them up in your mu- 
seum. This makes you a thief and an idolater who 
can never go to heaven." I knew the Hopi Cloud Peo- 
ple despised this man, and even though he was now 
old and wore a long beard I had a strong desire to 
seize him by the collar and kick him off the mesa. 

One day I visited Kalnimptewa, my father's old 
blind brother, and said: "Father, as I stood in my door 
I saw a Hopi missionary preaching to you from a Bi- 
ble." "Yes," the old man answered, "he talked a great 
deal, but his words failed to touch me. He warned me 
that it would not be long before Jesus Christ would 
come down from the sky, say a few sharp words, and 
destroy all disbelievers. He said that my only chance 

25 1 

to escape destruction was to confess and pray to his 
holy God. He urged me to hurry before it was too late, 
for a great flood was coming to Oraibi. I told him that 
I had prayed for rain all my life and nobody expected 
a flood in Oraibi. I also said that I was an old man 
and would not live very long, so he could not frighten 
me that way. . . ." He concluded: "Now, Talayesva, 
my son, you are a full-grown man, a herder and a 
farmer who supports a family, and such work means 
a happy life. When our ceremonies come round, pray 
faithfully to our Gods, and increase the good life of 
your family, and in this way you will stay happy." I 
thanked him and went home feeling confident that I 
would never pay any serious attention to the Christians. 
Other Gods may help some people, but my only chance 
for a good life is with the Gods of my fathers. I will 
never forsake them, even though their ceremonies die 
out before my eyes and all their shrines are neglected. 

Selected from Leo W. Simmons, Sun Chief, the Autobi- 
ography of a Hopi Indian. Don's autobiography, as edited 
by Dr. Simmons, is, though a trifle self-conscious, undoubt- 
edly a major contribution to the science of culture contact 
The Leitmotif throughout is the problem of how a not quite 
average personality reacts who stands between two utterly 
different cultures, accepted wholly by neither. To shape a 
livable present out of a crumbling past and a threatening 
future is the motivating power that determines most of 
Don's activities, cravings, and militant attitudes. 

In this connection it is of psychological interest to learn 
that the investigator who spends some time in the midst of 
the "peaceful people" is struck with the many cases of mal- 
adjustment within and without. Dorothy Eggan in her 
paper "The General Problem of Hopi Adjustment" (Ameri- 
can Anthropologist, vol. 45, 1943, pp. 357-373) traces three 

25 s * 

formative pressures that were necessarily to build up 
an attitude o permanent anxiety and ambivalent emo- 
tions. The first pressure she sees in the Hopi culture 
pattern itself (early inculcation of fear and oversharp re- 
striction of all forms of aggression); the second in the en- 
vironment that makes the struggle for existence a source of 
constant fear; but Hopi character of today is mainly the 
result of the devastating contact with the whites, it is the 
tragic outcome of "frustrating acculturation influences." Dr. 
Kluckhohn's paper on "The Personal Document in An- 
thropological Science," 1945, presents a helpful guide in the 
study of "primitive" personality. 



From California 



I learned to hunt when I was just a young boy. I 
made all my own bows and arrows and hunted in the 
valley for rabbits and ducks. I picked up this knowl- 
edge partly from the boys who always know something 
about it, and partly from my father's teachings. 

Once, while my people were visiting my father's vil- 
lage (he was born in his mother's village), my father 
told me about hunting. He said to me: "You go up 
toward Black Mountain. Whatever comes near you, 
will come from the north. It will be a mountain sheep. 
You will shoot it and then you will follow it south- 
ward. You will get it." Later I had a dream and saw 
the thing my father had told me about. I was standing 
in the mountains, watching some mountain sheep come 
toward me. When they were close I took two arrows 
and shot, but missed. "That is strange," I said, "after 
what my father told me. What he said must be un- 
true." A few years later the dream came again, and I 
knew that my father was wrong. I said to myself: 
"What my father told me is false. After this, when I 
am hunting, I will use my own judgment." After that 
I xelied upon myself and became a very successful 

When I was still a young man, I saw Birch Moun- 
tain in a dream. It said to me: "You will always be 
strong and well. Nothing can hurt you, and you will 
live to an old age." After this Birch Mountain came 
and spoke to me whenever I was in trouble and told 

me that I would be all right. That is why nothing has 
happened to me and why I am so old now. 

Not long after this, when I was bewitched, my power 
helped me out. . . . The witch doctor came to a bad 
end like all people who do evil things. 

I also was interested in women. My soul confessed 
it. It once said to me in a dream: "One thing I can- 
not get away from is love for women. I can get along 
without other things, but I cannot get along without 
women. I shall never be able to outlive this." I found 
that this was true and spent much time in the com- 
pany of women. 

But it soon brought me trouble, and I had to call 
upon my power. ... I became so sick that I gave my- 
self up for dead. My soul admitted that I would have 
to die. 

I died and my soul started southward, toward tilpilsi 
witti. While I was traveling, I looked down [apparently 
the journey was through the air], and my soul saw a 
stick in the ground not quite as tall as a man. . . . 
I turned to the stick and said: "This is the soul stick." 
I seized the stick and looked back toward my moun- 
tain, which was my power. I knew then that I would 
be all right and live forever, for whenever a soul go- 
ing south sees the soul stick, it knows that it will come 
' back. . . . My power from Birch Mountain helped 
me just as much in hunting as in sickness. . . . 

I was a young man when I promised myself to be a 
peaceful person. My soul said to me in a dream: "I 
shall never kill anyone; but in self-defense I will fight 
it out to the finish." . . . 

"Whenever I dream, especially when it is a bad 

dream which means trouble, I talk to something in 
the darkness. I talk to my power. That is why I have 
lived so long. If I had not called upon my power, acci- 
dent or disaster would have overtaken me long ago. 
Even when I have sex dreams, I talk to the night, be- 
cause if I should not pay attention to them, they would 
continue and lead to fits. . . . 

When I die, my soul will go south to the land of 
the dead. It will stay there by the ocean, and I will 
have nothing to do but enjoy myself. 

From Julian H. Steward, Two Paiute Autobiographies, 
pp. 423-38. As the Paiutes are neighbors of the Havasupai, 
the analyses Leslie Spier provides of the dream experiences 
of the latter are valid also for the Paiutes. Says Spier in his 
work on the Havasupai, p. 333: "A distinction is drawn be- 
tween unimportant and significant dreams. While there are 
no definite criteria to distinguish them, it seems- that those 
in which the dead, ghosts, or spirits figure are generally held 
significant. The real test seems to be the subsequent occur- 
rence of an important happening, whereupon the appropri- 
ate dream is assigned as a forecast of the event." In this 
connection there may be quoted one of Spier's informants: 
"I have dreamed that I was hunting and got some deer, but 
when I tried next morning I failed. I dreamed falsely: one 
does not have to dream the truth." And again the same in- 
formant: "It is bad to dream of the dead. I do not want to 
dream of them . . . [but when I have dreamt of them] I 
blow into my hands and brush them down my face and 
body. So I brush the dream away into the night." Perfect 

This specimen found a place in this collection not be- 
cause of any outstanding literary significance either in form 
or content, but because it tells in a pleasingly direct way of 
a culture trait, common to most of the Californian and 
southwestern desert tribes: the dream. It is the dream of the 


individual that directs and dominates his life to the exclu- 
sion of any interference from group, organized priesthood, 
or tradition, though, of course, the dreams run along cer- 
tain channels, grooved out by tradition and the general 
narrow scope of the various Californian culture groups. 




A long time ago, when the first people lived, all of 
them came together and decided to build a staircase 
to heaven. They set to work. Buzzard was their leader. 
He said, "When people are old and blind they will go 
to heaven and become young and healthy again. There 
will be a camping place there with plenty of wood 
and a spring." 

Coyote came along. They were working. Coyote said, 
"Nephews, what are you doing?" They paid no atten- 
tion to him. Then he said, "Get in the shade and rest. 
It is too hot to work." So finally they did. They told 
Coyote what they were doing. Coyote said, "It would 
be a good idea to have people die. People can go to 
burials and cry. It would be nice." 

"Your idea is not good," they said. 

Coyote argued in favor of death. Then Buzzard and 
the others said, "When acorns ripen they will have no 
shells. Snow will be salmon flour." 

Coyote was against this too. He said, "Acorns should 
have shells so that the boys and girls can shell them 
and throw them at each other in the evening and have 
a good time. Snow should be cold, and when people 
go out to hunt in it they will die. That is the way it 
will be good." 

Finally all the people became very angry and de- 
stroyed their work. 

From DuBois and Demetracopoulou, Wintu Mythsj p. 




At the time of death, 

When I found there was to be death, 

I was very much surprised. 

All was failing. 

My home, 

I was sad to leave it. 

I have been looking far, 

Sending my spirit north, south, east, 

and west, 

Trying to escape from death, 
But could find nothing, 
No way of escape. 

From Constance G. DuBois, The Religion of the Luiseno 
Indians, p. no. (Part o the Quiot story.) The Eagle, it is 
said, tried to escape from death He went to all the corners 
of the earth to escape he also went to Temecula; there he 
heard a spirit singing, from far away, telling him that it 
was no use trying to escape death would come to every- 




In the beginning all was empty space. Ke"-vish-a-tak- 
vish was the only being. This period was called Om- 
ai-ya.-mai, signifying emptiness, nobody there. Then 
came the time called Ha-ruh-rug, upheaval, things 
coming into shape. Then a time called Chu-tu-iai, the 
falling of things downward, and after this, Yu-vai-to- 
vai, things working in darkness without the light of 
sun or moon. Then came the period Tul-mul Pu-shim, 
signifying that deep down in the heart of the earth 
things were working together. 

Then came Why-yai Pee-vai, a gray glimmering like 
the whiteness of hoar frost; and then, Mit'ai Kwai-rai f 
the dimness of twilight. Then came a period of cessa- 
tion, Na-kai Howai-yai, meaning things at a standstill. 
Then Ke'-vish-a-tak-vish made a man, Tuk-mit, the 
Sky, and a woman, To-mai-yo-vit, the Earth. There 
was no light, but in the darkness these two became 
conscious of each other. 

"Who are you," asked the man. 

"I am To-mai-yo-vit. I am stretched, I am extended. 
I shake, I resound. I am diminished, I am earthquake. 
I revolve, I roll, I disappear. And who are you?" 

"I am Ke'-vish-a-tak-vish. I am night. I am inverted. 
I cover, I rise. I devour, I drain [by death]. I seize, I 
send away the souls of men. I cut, I sever life." 

"Then you are my brother." 

"Then you are my sister." 


And by her brother, the Sky, the Earth conceived 
and became the mother of all things. 

From Constance G. DuBois, "Mythology of the Mission 
Indians," Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 19. See also 
A. L. Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, p. 




Your heart is good. 

[The Spirit] Shining Darkness will be here. 

You think only of sad unpleasant things, 

You are to think of goodness. 

Lie down and sleep here. 

Shining darkness will join us. 

You think of this goodness in your dream. 

Goodness will be given to you, 

I will speak for it, and it will come to pass. 

It will happen here, 

I will ask for your good, 

It will happen as I sit by you, 

It will be done as I sit here in this place. 

From C. Daryll Fordc, Ethnography of the Yuma Indians, 
p. 190. 




I had my dreams first when I was quite young, but 
I did not try to cure until I was an old man. I remem- 
bered them quite clearly always and never forgot any- 
thing in them. 

If I hear of a sick person something tells me whether 
his illness is one I would be good for. This may hap- 
pen even if I have not had a dream and power espe- 
cially for his sickness. If I feel right I know I will be 
able to cure the man. When I have a good feeling I 
am very strong and light inside. . . . The patient and 
the relations know too, for I seem to draw the sick 
man to me. When I am called to go to the sick man 
I have a special feeling, it is like being back on the 
mountain. There is some fluid in me which I have 
drawn from the air, and I do not mind walking a great 
distance. I do not know how far I have traveled. When 
I work on the patient it does not tire me at all and 
it makes me very happy. 

Sometimes I feel quite different about it, I don't get 
any good feeling and though I do my best I do not 
often cure then. I don't get any feeling of lightness, 
and when I go away from the sick man I don't want 
to return to him. I feel heavy and tired and very sleepy 
that night. I think about all the jobs I have to do 
around here and cannot keep my mind on the sick 
man. I know it is really no good me trying to help 
him, even if I have had a dream for his sickness." 

From ibid., p. 184. Told by Manuel Thomas. 


From the Creation Tale 

After Cipas arranged that people should die, he 
said, "Even after they die, they should have life again." 
And he said that even after his death, he would have 
a spirit life. 

Then he sat down to wait for all his people to talk. 
The Mission Indians were the first to talk. The Mari- 
copa talked next. Then all the trihes spoke in turn. 
The Chemehucvi talked in the middle of the night, 
so their language is unintelligible to anybody else. All 
the tribes here had spoken. The white people were 
the very last to speak. It was said, that like a younger 
child, they were cry-babies. So the Creator did every- 
thing to soothe them, hence they are richer than any 
of the Indians. . . . 

When everybody could speak, that is including rab- 
bits and all other kinds of animals, he built a big 
house for them. This held all the beings he had cre- 
ated. When morning came they would all go out to 
play together; all the games of which they could think. 
Toward evening they would all go into the house. 
Then he also made a snake. It had no teeth. It was 
gentle. Its name was Kinyamds Kasur, meaning fragile 
and limp. They would take the snake and hit each 
other with it. The rabbit always got the snake and 
played with it. He would bring it out, so that they 


could play, hitting each other with it until it was half 
dead. . . . 

[Once] early in the morning they all went out to 
play. The Creator was lying right by the door. The 
snake crawled up to him. The Creator asked him what 
he wanted. The snake said that he only crawled up 
because of his poor condition; he was not being treated 
right. He had life just like the others: he did not see 
why he was roughly treated by everyone in that house. 
The Creator told him to sit there and wait for the sun 
to rise. Then the Creator took some coals and chewed 
them into tiny bits. They both sat there; the snake fac- 
ing the east as the sun rose. Then the Creator told 
him to open his mouth. This he did. Then the Crea- 
tor put the coal and the sun rays together in it for 
teeth. The snake now had teeth, so he went back able 
to protect himself. 

Toward evening when everybody returned to the 
house, they sent the rabbit again to get the snake. As 
she [sic] reached for the snake, she was bitten. She 
suffered with pain for just a short time and died at 
midnight. . . . 

After the rabbit died they felt bad over their great 
loss. So instead of going out to play, they remained 
quiet mourning their sister. Then they began to won- 
der who had put teeth in the snake's mouth. They 
discovered who it was: their father, who had taken 
pity on the poor snake. Then they wondered why he 
did not feel sorry for the rabbit. Then they said they 
would kill their father, if only someone knew how. 
They thought he, too, ought to die. 

Bullfrog was the one who knew how to do it. The 
frog sank into the ground and went under a slough 


where the old man used to swim. If he went swimming 
again, the frog was to drink up all the water in the 
slough. He did this. As soon as the old man got out, 
he felt sick as he was going home. 

[He tries to recover by lying in four places and by 
eating four remedies, but nothing helps.] 

He said: "All these things I have tried in order to 
recover from my sickness, but they do no good. I have 
not been with you long enough to tell you all I know. 
Sickness must come to people just as it did to me." 
. . . Then he died on the fourth day. 

When Cipas died he went under the earth. He lies 
there yet. Whenever he yawns a little and turns over, 
an earthquake is caused. 

From Leslie Spier, Yuman Tribes of the Gila River, pp. 
347-50 (condensed). 




[Coyote, in thwarting repeatedly the efforts of the 
transformers, has gotten into serious trouble. He would 
have died had not Namet Hatagult, one of the trans- 
formers, taken pity on him.] 

Namet Hatagult said: "Poor brother, I shall sing a 
song for you [i.e. cure you]." At die first song, Coyote 
could barely open his eyes. At the second song, he 
moved his feet just a little. At the third song, he began 
to keep time with the singing: pat, pat. Then, at the 
fourth song, he rose and danced around: stamp, stamp. 
Because of this, the Mohave still continue to sing for 
their sick and dead. 

When Namet found the other [transformer] had 
stayed so long, he came down to see what was hap- 
pening. When he reached the ground, he said: "If I 
had stayed away from my sick brother altogether, hu- 
mans might do the same. A family may have disputes, 
but because of sickness they should forgive one an- 
other. For this reason, I will forgive my brother, who 
has done me great wrong." 

From ibid., p. 359. 



Do you see mel 
See me, Tuushiut! 
See me, Pamashiutl 
See me, Yuhahaitl 
See me, Eshepatl 
See me, Pitsuriut! 
See me, Tsuksitl 
See me, Ukat! 

Do you all help mel 
My words are tied in one 
With the great mountains, 
With the great rocks, 
With the great trees, 
In one with my body 
And my heart. 
Do you all help me 
With supernatural power 
And you, day, 
And you, nightl 
All of you sec me 
One with this world. 

From A. L. Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of Cali- 
fornia, p. 511. 



At first there were no trees nor rivers and no people 
on the earth. Nothing except ground was visible. 
There was no ocean. Then Gudatrigakwitl was sorry 
that it was so. He thought, "How is it that there are 
no animals?" He looked, but he saw nothing. Then he 
deliberated. He thought, "I will try. Somebody will 
live on the earth. But what will he use?" Then he de- 
cided to make a boat for him. He made things by join- 
ing his hands and spreading them. He used no tools. 
In this way he made people. The first man was wat, 
the abalone. The first people were not right. They all 
died. Gudatrigakwitl thought that they were bad. He 
wanted good people who would have children. At first 
he wanted every man to have ten lives. When he was 
an old man he was to become a boy again. Afterwards 
Gudatrigakwitl found that he could not do this. He 
gave the people all the game, the fish, and the trees. . . . 

Gudatrigakwitl used no sand or earth or sticks to 
make the people; he merely thought and they existed. 

Gudatrigakwitl thought: "When something is alive, 
like a plant, it will not die. It will come up again from 
the roots and grow again and again. So it will be with 
men, and animals, and everything alive. . . ." 

Gudatrigakwitl left the people all kinds of dances. 
He said: "When there is a festivity, call me. If some 
do not like what I say, let them be. But those to whom 
I leave my instructions, who will teach them to their 
children, will be well. Whenever you are badly off, call 
me. I can save you in some way, no matter how great 

the difficulty. If a man does not call me, I will let him 
go " 

Gudatrigakwitl went all over the world looking. 
Then he made everything. When he had finished 
everything he made people. 

Gudatrigakwitl is not called on every day. He is 
called only when a man is in difficulty. 

From A. L. Krocber, "Wishosk Myths," Journal of Amer- 
ican Folklore, Vol. 18. 


From the Northwest 


[When the new moon appears it is shouted to:] 

I shall prosper, 

I shall yet remain alive. 

Even i people do say of me, 

"Would that he died!" 

Just like thee shall I do, 

Again shall I arise. 

Even if all sorts of evil beings devour thee, 

When frogs eat thee up, 

Many evil beings lizards, 

Even when those eat thee up, 

Still dost thou rise again. 

Just like you will I do in time to come. 


From Edward Sapir, Takelma Texts, p. 197. 



No matter how hard I try 

to forget you, 

you always 

come bad to my mind, 

and when you hear me singing 

you may know 

I am weeping for you. 

From Frances Denanore, Nootka and Quikutc Music, 
P- 8*7- 




You, whose day it is, make it beautiful. 
Get out your rainbow colors, 
So it will be beautiful. 



Don't you ever. 

You up in the sky, 

Don't you ever get tired 

Of having the clouds between you and us? 

From ibid,, p. 285, p. 284. 


Heard on Shell-Island 

You are hard-hearted against me, my dear, 

ha ha ye ya ha ha! 
You are cruel against me, my dear, 

ha ha ye ya ha ha! 
For I am tired waiting for you to come here, my dear, 

ha ha ye ya ha ha! 
Now I shall cry differently on your account, my dear, 

ha ha ye ya ha ha! 

Ah, I shall go down to the lower world, there I shall 
cry for you, my dear, 

ha ha ye ya ha ha! 

From Franz Boas, The Ethnology of the Kwakiutl, p. 




The woman goes into the woods to look for young 
cedar trees. As soon as she finds them, she picks out 
one that has no twists in the bark, and whose bark is 
not thick. She takes her hand adze and stands under 
the young cedar tree, and looking upward to it, she 
prays, saying: 

Look at me, friendl 

I come to ask for your dress, 

For you have come to take pity on us; 

For there is nothing for which you cannot be 

used, . . . 

For you arc really willing to give us your dress, 
I come to beg you for this, 
Long-Life maker, 
For I am going to make a basket for lily roots 

out of you. 

I pray you, friend, not to feel angry 
On account of what I am going to do to you; 
And I beg you, friend, to tell our friends about 

what I ask of you. 
Take care, friend! 
Keep sickness away from me, 
So that I may not be killed by sickness or in war, 

O friendl 

This is the prayer that is used by those who peel 
cedar bark of young cedar trees and of old cedar trees. 

From ibid., p. 619. 



Sung by Ts'esquane on His Deathbed 


Farewell, O friends! for I am leaving you, O friends! 

a ye ha a, a\ ye ya ha, aye] 
O friends! do not take it too much to heart that I am 

leaving you, O friends! a ye ya ha a . . . 
O brothers! do not take it too much to heart that I am 

leaving you, O friends, a ye ya ha a . . . 

sisters! do not feel sorrowful because I am leaving 

you, O sisters, a ye ya ha . . . 

1 was told by the one who takes care of me that I shall 

not stay away long, that I shall come back to you, 
O friends! a ye ya ha . . . 

I mean, O friends! that you shall not feel too sorrowful 
when I leave you, O friends! a ye ya ha a, a ye ya 
ha, aye a! 

From ibid., p. 1307. A few lines of repetition omitted. 



"Oh, it is great how you lie there on the ground, 
Great Supernatural One. 
What has made you unlucky? 
Why, great and good one, are you lying here on the 


Friend, Supernatural One, 

Why have you been unlucky, friend, for I thought you 
could never be overcome, by all the Short-Life-Maker 

Now, you great and good one, have you been 


by the one who does as he pleases to us, friend. 
I mean this, that you may wish that I shall inherit 
your quality of obtaining easily all kinds of game 
and all kinds of fish, 
you Great Supernatural One, friend, 
you Long-Life Maker. 
And also that you protect me, 
that I may not have any trouble, Supernatural One, 
And also that it may not penetrate me, 
the evil word of those who hate me among my fellow 


And that only may penetrate themselves 
the curses of those who wish me to die quickly. 
I mean this, friend, 
Only have mercy on me 


that nothing evil may befall me, 
Great Supernatural One," says he. 
"Wd, I will do this," says the man 
on behalf of the one he found dead. 

From Franz Boas, The Religion of the Kwakiutl In- 
dians, Vol. 2, p. 184. 




When it is the firsl-born child of the one who has 
just for the first time given birth, a young woman, 
then the woman is really fond of her child. Then she 
engages a carver to make a little canoe and all kinds 
of playthings for the boy. And if it is a girl, then she 
engages a doll maker to make dolls of alder -wood, and 
women are hired by her to make little mats and little 
dishes and little spoons. Then her child begins to get 
sick, and not long is sick the child when it dies and 
the woman carries in her arms her child. Then all the 
relatives of the woman come to see her and all the 
women wail together. As soon as all the women stop 
crying the mother of the child speaks aloud. She says: 

"Ah, ah, ahl What is the reason, child, that you 
have done this to me? I have tried hard to treat you 
well when you came to me to have me for your mother. 
Look at all your toys. What is the reason that you de- 
sert me, child? May it be that I did something, child, 
to you in the way I treated you, child? I will try better 
when you come back to me, child. Please, only become 
at once well in the place to which you are going. As 
soon as you are made well, please, come back to me, 
child. Please, do not stay away there. Please, only have 
mercy on me who is your mother, child," says she. 

Then they put the child in the coffin, and they put 
it up on a hemlock tree. That is the end. 

From Franz Boas, ibid., p. so*. 



A young chief on the Queen Charlotte Islands mar- 
ried, and soon afterwards his wife fell ill. Then he 
sent around everywhere for the very best shamans. If 
there was a very fine shaman at a certain village, he 
would send a canoe there to bring him. None of them 
could help her, however, and after she had been sick 
for a very long time she died. 

Now the young chief fell very badly over the loss 
of his wife. He went from place to place after the best 
carvers in order to have them carve an image of his 
wife, but no one could make anything to look like 
her. All this time there was a carver in his own village 
who could carve much better than all the others. This 
man met him one day and said, "You are going from 
village to village to have wood carved like your wife's 
face, and you cannot find anyone to do it, can you? I 
have seen your wife a great deal walking with you. . . . 
I am going to try to carve her image if you will allow 

Then the carver went after a piece of red cedar and 
began working upon it. When he was through, he 
went to the young chief and said, "Now you can come 
along and look at it." So the chief went with him, 
and, when he got inside, he saw his dead wife sitting 
there just as she used to look. This made him very 
happy, and he took it home. Then he asked the carver, 
"What do I owe you for making this?" and he replied, 
"Do as you please about it." The carver had felt sorry 
to see how this chief was mourning for his wife, so he 


said, "It is because I felt badly for you that I made 
that. So don't pay me too much." He paid the carver 
very well, however, both in slaves and in goods. 

Now the chief dressed this image in his wife's clothes 
and her marten-skin robe. He felt that his wife had 
come back to him and treated the image just like her. 
One day, while he sat mourning very close to the 
image, he felt it move. His wife had also been very 
fond of him. At first he thought that the movement 
was only his imagination, yet he watched it every day, 
for he thought that at some time it would come to 
life. When he ate he always had the image close to 

Some time later, however, the image gave forth a 
sound from its chest like that of crackling wood, and 
the man knew that it was ill. When he had someone 
move it away from the place where it had been sitting 
they found a small cedar tree growing there on top of 
the flooring. They left it until it grew very large and 
it is because of this that cedars on the Queen Char- 
lotte Islands are so good. When people up this way 
look for red cedars and find a good one they say, "This 
looks like the baby of the chief's wife." 

Every day the image of the young woman grew more 
like a human being, and, when they heard the story, 
people from villages far and near came in to look at 
it and at the young cedar tree growing there, at which 
they were very much astonished. The woman moved 
around very little and never got to talk, but her hus- 
band dreamed what she wanted to tell him. It was 
through his dreams that he knew she was talking to 

John R. Swanton, Tlingit Myths and Texts, pp. 181-2. 



j. Song of Cgwatc 

I always think within myself 
That there is no place 
Where people do not die. 

I do not know where my dear one is. 
Perhaps the spirits threw down my dear 
Into the spirit's cave around the world. 

2. Song of the Poet 

It is only crying about myself 
that comes to me in song. 

5. Song of Hummingbird 

... I am feeling very lonely away. 

I am singing inside. 

I am crying about myself. 

From ibid., pp. 401, 410, 419. 



j. Song of Here-is-a-feather 

Help me with your believing, Kagrantan's children. 
It is as if my grandfather's house were turning over 

with me. 
Where is the person that will save me? 

2. Song of Other-water 

My younger brother has brought me a great joy of 

If I knew the way the spirits go, I would go right to 


From ibid., p. 408. 




Some morning just at daylight the chief who is 
about to erect the pole and give the feast, no matter 
how great a chief he is, passes along in the front of 
the houses of the town, singing mourning songs for 
the dead. Then the people know what is wrong and 
feel badly for him. The memorial pole seems to bring 
every recollection of the dead back to him. Now is the 
time when the story of the Raven is used. 

After that the chief stands in a place from which he 
can be heard all over the village. . . . Then he will 
perhaps speak as follows: "My father's brothers, my 
grandfathers, people that I came from, my ancestors, 
my mother's grandfathers, years ago they say that 
this world was without daylight. Then one person 
knew that there was daylight with Nas-caki-yel, and 
went quickly to his daughter. When he was born he 
cried for the daylight his grandfather had. Then his 
grandfather gave it to him. At that time his grand- 
child brought daylight out upon the poor people he 
had made in the world. He pitied them. This is the 
way with me. Darkness is upon me. My mind is sick. 
Therefore I am now begging daylight from you, my 
grandfathers, my father's brothers, people I came from, 
my ancestors, my mother's grandfathers. Can it be that 
you will give the daylight as Nas-caki-yel gave it to his 
grandchild, so that day will dawn upon me?" 

[Then the people to whom he is speaking will an- 


swer: "Ye Kugwati" that means: "We will make it so." 
By "being in the dark" he means that the pole is not 
yet raised and he tells them that they -will give him 
daylight by raising it.] 

After it is raised he says: "You have brought day- 
light on me." After this speech all show the greatest 
respect to this chief and keep very quiet. They do not 
allow the children to say anything out of the way. 

The evening of the day when the pole is erected 
they have a dance. . . . 

After this dance the widower, or one of the widow's 
family, might rise and speak as follows: "In the first 
time took place the flood of Nas-cdki-yel. What the 
people went through was pitiful. Their uncle's houses 
and their uncle's poles all drifted away. At that time, 
however, Old-woman-underneath took pity and made 
the flood subside. You were like this while you were 
mourning. Your uncle's houses and poles were flooded 
over. They drifted away from this world. But now 
your grandfathers make it go down like Old-woman- 
undcrneath. You were as if dying with cold from what 
had happened to you. Your floor planks too, were all 
standing up from the flood. But now they have been 
put down. A fire has been made . . . hoping that it 
will make you warm." 

Then the man who is putting up the pole rises and 
says: "I thank you, my grandfathers, for your words. 
It is as if I had been in a great flood. But now your 
words have made the flood go down from me. My un- 
cle's houses have drifted ashore and have been left at 
a good place. Your kind words have put down my 
floor planks. We have been as if we were cold, But 
now that you have made a fire, we shall be warm. 

Thank you for what you have done. On account of 
your words we will not mourn any more. This is all." 

From ibid., pp. 374-7. (Obtained from Katishan at Wran- 
gell.) The story of the Raven to which the chief in his 
speech refers is the creation myth of the Tlingit, in which 
the deeds of the Creator, Nas-caki-yel, the invisible deity, 
and those of the culture hero Yel (Raven), are related. 
Here the myth of the beginning of all tilings is narrated in 
order to restore life and to bridge the gap torn open by 
death, indicating thus the very essence of all myth-relating 
as a magic performance in se. 



From the Far North 



The lands around my dwelling 

Are more beautiful 

From the day 

When it is given me to see 

Faces I have never seen before. 

All is more beautiful, 

All is more beautiful, 

And life is thankfulness. 

These guests of mine 

Make my house grand, 


From Knud Rasmussen, The Intellectual Culture of the 
Iglulik Eskimos, p. 37. The old woman Takomaq, who was 
about to serve a meal she had prepared for Knud Rasmus- 
sen and his companion, was so pleased at the sight of the 
tea Rasmussen contributed that she at once joyfully im- 
provised the above song. 




. . . Thus I began to live my life. And I reached the 
age where I was as if awake, and sometimes as if asleep. 
I could begin to remember. . . . 

One day, I remember, I saw a party of children out 
at play, and I wanted to run out at once and play with 
them. But my father, who understood hidden things, 
perceived that I was playing with the souls of my dead 
brothers and sisters. He was afraid that might be dan- 
gerous, and therefore called up his helping spirits and 
asked them about it. Through his helping spirits my 
father learned that despite the manner in which I was 
born, with the aid of a magic bird, and the way my 
life had been saved by powerful spirits, there was yet 
something in my soul of that which had brought about 
the death of all my brothers and sisters. For this rea- 
son the dead were often about me, and I could not 
distinguish between the spirits of the dead and real 
live people. Thus it was that I had gone out to play 
with the souls of my dead brothers and sisters, but it 
was a dangerous thing to do, for in the end, the dead 
ones might keep me among themselves. My father's 
helping spirits would therefore now endeavor to pro- 
tect me more effectively than hitherto, and my father 
was not to be afraid of my dying now. And after that, 
whenever I wanted to go out and play with the spirit 
children, which I always took for real ones, a sort of 
rocky wall rose up out of the ground, so that I could 
not get near them. . . . 

From ibid. f pp. 24-5. 



As Told by Igjugarjuk 

When I was to be a shaman, I chose suffering 
through the two things that are most dangerous to 
us humans, suffering through hunger and suffering 
through cold. . . . 

My instructor was my wife's father, Perqanaq. When 
I was to be exhibited to Pinga and Hila [deities], he 
dragged me on a little sledge that was no bigger than 
I just could sit on it; he dragged me far over on the 
other side of Hikoligjuaq. ... It was in wintertime 
and took place at night with the new moon; one could 
just see the very first streak of the moon; it had just 
appeared in the sky. I was not fetched again until the 
next moon was of the same size. Perqanaq built a 
small snow hut being no bigger than that I could just 
get under cover and sit down. I was given no sleeping 
skin to protect me against the cold, only a little piece 
of caribou skin to sit upon. There I was shut in. The 
entrance was closed with a block, but no soft snow 
was thrown over the hut to make it warm. When I 
sat there five days, Perqanaq came with water, tepid, 
wrapped in caribou skin, a watertight caribou-skin 
bag. Not until fifteen days afterwards did he come 
again and hand me the same, just giving himself time 
to hand it to me, and then he was gone again, for 
even the old shaman must not interrupt my solitude. 
... As soon as I had become alone, Perqanaq en- 
joined me to think of only one thing all the time I 

was to be there, to want only one single thing, and 
that was to draw Pinga's attention to the fact that 
there I sat and wished to be a shaman: Pinga should 
own me. My novitiate took place in the coldest win- 
ter, and I, who never got anything to warm me, and 
must not move, was very cold, and it was so tiring 
having to sit without daring to lie down, that some- 
times it was as if I died a little. Only towards the end 
of the thirty days did a helping spirit come to me, a 
lovely and beautiful helping spirit, whom I had never 
thought of; it was a white woman; she came to me 
while I had collapsed, exhausted, and was sleeping. 
But still I saw her lifelike, hovering over me, and from 
that day I could not close my eyes or dream without 
seeing her. There is this remarkable thing about my 
helping spirit, that I have never seen her while awake, 
but only in dreams. She came to me from Pinga and 
was a sign that Pinga had now noticed me and would 
give me powers that would make me a shaman. 

When a new moon was lighted and had the same 
size as the one that had shone for us when we left 
the village, Perqanaq came again with his little sledge 
and . . . dragged me home in the same manner as he 
had dragged me to Kingarjuit. . . . 

For a whole year I was not to lie with my wife, who, 
however, had to make my food. For a whole year I 
had to have my own little cooking pot and my own 
meat dish; no one else was allowed to eat of what had 
been cooked for me. 

Later, when I had quite become myself again, I un- 
derstood that I had become the shaman of my village, 
and it did happen that my neighbors or people from 


a long distance away called me to heal a sick person, 
or to inspect a course i they were going to travel. 
When this happened, the people of my village were 
called together and I told them what I had been asked 
to do. Then I left tent or snow house and went out 
into solitude: away from the dwellings of man, but 
those who remained behind had to sing continuously, 
just to keep themselves happy and lively. If anything 
difficult had to be found out, my solitude had to ex- 
tend over three days and two nights, or three nights 
and two days. In all that time I had to wander about 
without rest, and only sit down once in a while on a 
stone or a snowdrift. When I had been out long and 
had become tired, I could almost doze and dream 
what I had come out to find and about which I had 
been thinking all the time. Every morning, however, 
I could come home and report on what I had so far 
found out, but as soon as I had spoken I had to return 
again, out into the open, out to places where I could 
be quite alone. In the time when one is out seeking, 
one may eat a little, but not much. If a shaman out of 
the secrets of solitude finds out that the sick person 
will die, he can return home and stay there without 
first having allowed the usual time to pass. It is only 
in cases of a possible cure that he must remain out 
the whole time. 

We shamans in the interior have no special spirit 
language and believe that the real angatkut do not 
need it. On my travels I have sometimes been present 
at a stance among the salt-water dwellers. These an- 
gatkut never seemed trustworthy to me. It always 
appeared to me that these salt-water angatkut attached 
more weight to tricks that would astonish the audi- 

ence, when they jumped about the Boor and lisped 
all sorts of absurdities and lies in their so-called spirit 
language; to me all this seemed only amusing and as 
something that would impress the ignorant. A real 
shaman does not jump about the floor and do tricks, 
nor does he seek by the aid of darkness, by putting 
out the lamps, to make the minds of his neighbors 
uneasy. For myself, I do not think I know much, but 
I do not think that wisdom or knowledge about things 
that are hidden can be sought in that manner. True 
wisdom is only to be found far away from people, out 
in the great solitude, and is not found in play but 
only through suffering. Solitude and suffering open 
the human mind, and therefore a shaman must seek 
his wisdom there. 

From, Knud Rasmussen, Observations on the Intellectual 
Culture of the Caribou Eskimos, pp. 58-4. A few repetitions 



Heaven is a great land. In that land there are many 
holes. These holes we call stars. In the land of heaven 
lives Pana [the Woman-up-there]. There is a mighty 
spirit, and the angatkut hold that it is a woman. To 
her pass the souls of the dead. And sometimes, when 
many die, there are many people up there. When any- 
thing is spilt up there, it pours out through the stars 
and becomes rain or snow. The souls of the dead are 
reborn in the dwellings of Pana and brought down to 
earth again by the moon. When the moon is absent, 
and cannot be seen in the sky, it is because it is busy 
helping Pana by bringing souls to earth. Some become 
human beings once more, others become animals, all 
manner of beasts. And so life goes on without end. 

From ibid., p. 79. Told by Kibkarjuk. 



Eye aya 

I call to mind 

And think of the early coming of spring 

As I knew it 

In my younger days. 

Was I ever such a hunter! 

Was it myself indeed? 

For I see 

And recall in memory a man in a kayak; 

Slowly he toils along in toward the shores 

of the lake, 

With many spear-slain caribou in tow. 
Happiest am I 

In my memories of hunting in kayak. 
On land, I was never of great renown 
Among the herds of caribou. 
And an old man, seeking strength in his 


Loves most to think of the deeds 
Whereby he gained renown. 

From ibid., p. 70. Ulivfak was old, and in his grief at 
having lost the agility o his youth, he felt inclined to weep, 
but sang this song instead, 



I am quite unable 

To capture seals as they do, I am quite unable. 

Animals with blubber since I do not know how to 


To capture seals as they do I am quite unable. 
I am quite unable 

To shoot as they do, I am quite unable. 
I am quite unable, 
A fine kayak such as they have I am quite unable to 


Animals that have fawns since I cannot obtain them, 
A fine kayak such as they have I am quite unable to 


I am quite unable 

To capture fish as they do, I am quite unable. 
Small fish since I cannot capture them, 
To capture fish as they do I am quite unable. 
I am quite unable 

To dance as they do, I am quite unable. 
Dance songs since I do not know them at all, 
To dance as they do I am quite unable. 
I am quite unable to be swift-footed as they are, 
I am quite unable. . . . 

From Roberts and Jenness, Songs of the Copper Eskimo, 
pp. 9, is. The dance house, with the Copper Eskimo, is 
the center of social life. Every notable incident, every im- 
portant experience or emotion in the daily life is recorded 


in a dance song, which takes the place to some extent o 
the local newspaper. Every Eskimo, whether man or woman, 
can not only sing and dance, but can even in some measure 
compose dance songs. Distinction in this field ranks almost 
as high as distinction in hunting. A man who knows how 
to make a song is a very valuable adjunct to the community. 



Aja f I am joyful; this is goodl 

Aja, there is nothing but ice around me, that 

is goodl 

Aja, I am joyful; this is goodl 
My country is nothing but slush, that is goodl 
Aja, I am joyful; this is goodl 
Aja, when, indeed, will this end? This is goodl 
I am tired of watching and waking, this is goodl 

From Franz Boas, Eskimo Tales and Songs, p. 50. Re- 
corded at Cumberland Sound. This song was composed, says 
Boas, by a young man named Utitiaq, who went adrift on 
the ice when scaling, and did not reach the shore until 
after a week of hardships and priva.ti.ons. 



From Mexico 



O god all powerful, who gives life to men and whose 
name is Titlacaoan, do me the favor to grant me what 
I need to eat and drink and to enjoy your tranquillity 
and delight, because I live in dire affliction and need 
in this world. Have mercy because I am so poor and 
sparsely clad, and I work 10 serve you, and in this 
your service I sweep, clean, and light the fire in the 
hearth of this poor house, where I am awaiting what 
might be your pleasure to ordain me. O, let me die at 
once and thus end this troublesome and miserable 
life, so that I may rest and my body may be at ease. 

From Bernardino de Sahagun, A History of Ancient Mex- 
ico, p. 178, 




I lift my voice in wailing, I am afflicted, as I remem- 
ber that we must leave the beautiful flowers, the noble 
songs; let us enjoy ourselves for a while, let us sing, 
for we must depart forever, we are to be destroyed in 
our dwelling place. 


Is it indeed known to our friends how it pains and 
angers me that never again can they be born, never 
again be young on this earth. 

Yet a little while with them here, then nevermore 
shall I be with them, nevermore enjoy them, never- 
more know them. 

Where shall my soul dwell? Where is my home? 
Where shall be my house? I am miserable on earth. 

We take, we unwind the jewels, the blue flowers are 
woven over the yellow ones, that we may give them 
to the children. 


Let my soul be draped in various flowers; let it be 
intoxicated by them; for soon must I weeping go be- 
fore the face of our Mother. 

From Daniel G. Brinton, Ancient Nahuatl Poetry, p. 79. 
It is only hesitatingly that I bring specimens of Brinton's 
translation into this collection, the aim of which is to set 
before the reader, in the main, translations as literal as pos- 
sible; having in mind E. Seler's severe criticism of Brinton's 
all too sweeping translations, the compiler compared his 
work with literal translations of similar poetical products of 
the ancient Mexicans and thus came to the conclusion that 
Brinton with the genius of a poet must have caught the 
atmosphere of this unique literature almost to perfection, 
regardless of philological errors with which his translations 
might abound. 






I strike on my drum, I the skillful singer, that I may 
arouse, that I may fire our friends, who think of 
nothing, to whose minds, plunged in sleep, the dawn 
has not appeared, over whom are yet spread the dark 
clouds of night; may I not call in vain and poorly, 
may they hear this song of the rosy dawn, poured 
abroad widely by the drum, ohe! ohel 

The divine flowers of dawn blossom forth, the war 
flowers of the Cause of All; glittering with dew they 
scatter abroad their fragrance; bring them hither that 
they be not hidden nor bloom in vain, that they may 
rejoice you, our friends, and not in vain shall be the 
flowers, the living, colored, brilliant flowers. 


O youths, here there are skilled men in the flowers 
of shields, in the flowers of the pendant eagle plumes, 
the yellow flowers which they grasp; they pour forth 
noble songs, noble flowers; they make payment with 
their blood, with their bare breasts; they seek the 

bloody field of war. And you, O friends, put on your 
black paint for war, for the path of victory; let us lay 
hand on our shields, and raise aloft our strength and 

From ibid., p. 81. 





The sweet-voiced quetzal there, ruling the earth, 
has intoxicated my soul. 


I am like the quetzal bird, I am created in the one 
and only God; I sing sweet songs among the flowers; 
I chant songs and rejoice in my heart. 

The fuming dewdrops from the flowers in the fields 
intoxicate my soul. 

I grieve to myself that ever this dwelling on earth 
should end. 

I foresaw, being a Mexican, that our rule began to 
be destroyed, I went forth weeping that it was to bow 
down and to be destroyed. 


Let me not be angry that the grandeur of Mexico 
is to be destroyed. 

The smoking stars gather against it; the one who 
cares for flowers is about to be destroyed. 


He who cared for books wept, he wept for the be- 
ginning ol the destruction. 

From ibid., p. 123. The destruction o the Mexican state 
was foreshadowed by a series of omens and prodigies which 
took place during the ten years preceding the arrival of 
Cortes. By the "smoking stars" is meant a comet that was 
visible for about a year. 




I know not whether thou hast been absent: 

I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee, 

In my dreams thou art with me. 

If my eardrops tremble in my ears, 

I know it is thou moving within my heart. 

From Daniel G. Brinton, "Native American Poetry," in 
Essays of an Americanist, p. 295. This song was obtained 
from the lips of an Indian girl in the Sierra of Tamaulipas. 




The first rule was that all those ministers of the 
idols who were called Tlamacazque were to sleep in 
the house of Calmecac. The second rule was that they 
all swept and cleaned that house at four o'clock in 
the morning. The third one was that the already big- 
ger boys had to go out to look for and gather maguey 
points [thorns]; the fourth rule was for still older boys 
to bring in firewood on their backs from the forest; 
this wood was needed for the fires which were lighted 
every night; and when any construction work in clay 
was to be done, be it building walls, ditches, watering 
canals, or field work, they all went together at day- 
break, only those who had to watch the house and 
those who had to carry the food to the workers, were 
remaining; no one ever lagged behind, and they all 
worked with great discipline and good order. The fifth 
rule was to stop work somewhat early; they then went 
at once to their monastery to be in charge of the 
services of their gods and to perform penance exer- 
cises and, first of all, to bathe. At sunset they began to 
get all the necessary things ready, then at eleven o'clock 
at night, they went on their way, each one alone by 
himself, carrying the points of maguey, a shell on 
which to play a tune on the road, an incensory of clay, 
a pouch or bag in which to carry the incense, torches. 
. . . Thus each one went out naked to deposit the 
maguey thorns at his particular place of devotion, and 


those who wanted to do very severe penance went far 
towards the forests, mountains, and rivers. . . . The 
sixth rule was that the ministers of the idols . . . slept 
apart, everyone by himself. The seventh rule was that 
the meals that were consumed there had to be pre- 
pared in the house of the Calmecac, because they had 
a communal income which they spent in food, and if 
to anyone food was brought from his home, they all 
shared it. The eighth rule was that every midnight all 
had to get up to pray, and he who did not awake and 
rise was punished by pricking with points of maguey 
leaves . . . that he might take warning. The ninth 
rule was that no one should be overbearing, or offend 
one another, nor should anyone be disobedient to the 
order and customs they observed, and if at one time 
or another one of them appeared intoxicated, or 
should live in concubinage, or commit some criminal 
act, they killed him outright, executed him with gar- 
rot, roasted him alive, or shot arrows at him. . . . 
[Another] rule was to teach [the boys] all the verses of 
the songs to sing; these verses were written in their 
books by signs; furthermore, they taught them Indian 
astrology and the interpretation of dreams and the 
counting of years. . . . 

From Sahagun, 03!?. cit., pp. 5500-8. Though the diction 
is Sahagun's, it is nevertheless his Indian informant who 
has dictated the above account of die rules of monastic 
education in ancient Mexico. 



The Story of the Biblical Flood 

There was a man called Noe'h who was much re- 
spected by the people. As Noeh was a Catholic he 
went to church. He did not forget God, nor was he for- 
saken by God. God sent him a letter. The angel came 
down from the sky and gave it to him at seven at 
night. The letter said that if the people did not go to 
church God was going to put an end to the world. 
The people were unmannerly and gross. Noe'h was to 
hold a meeting so that all might hear that if they did 
not go to church, God would put an end to the world. 
The people were to give heed to Noe'h. Sunday morn- 
ing Noe'h went with his letter to the town hall, to the 
president. When Noe'h arrived, he gave the letter to 
the secretary, who was writing. All assembled to hear 
what Noe'h had to say, also to hear the letter. The 
secretary said, "God says that you are to hold mass and 
to pray, if not, gyeb Dios, el santo Dios, will put an 
end to the world." They laughed. "Nocli is crazyl" 
They did not believe God sent the letter. "Noe'h him- 
self sent the letter. Noe'h is crazy. Let us kill him!" 
Noe'h said, "I am going. I will explain to God that 
you do not believe what he says. I am going." At seven 
at night the angel came again. The angel was Gabriel. 
He asked, "What do they say, those of the town?" 
"They are going to kill me because I am crazy. They 
do not believe what the letter says." 

"Sta bueno! Go and see them again, and if they still 


do not believe, God will put an end to the world next 

The next day, Noe"h went to the president and said, 
"I come again. Excuse me for disturbing you, Senor 
Piesidente. Is it true that you do not believe that God 
said he would put an end to the world? If you do not 
believe that God is in the sky he says he will end the 

"Eueno, I believe it," said the president, "but the 
people do not believe it." 

The people assembled again. "Let God do what he 
wantsl We do not believe." 

"Well, I will tell him that it is true that you do not 
believe. But pray a little to God to forgive us." 

"No, let God do what he wants! We arc not going 
to church. We do not think there is a God." 

"Well, I will tell him." 

The angel came again and asked what they said. 
"They do not believe in God in Heaven." 

Said the angel, "Now God will be angry." 

Saturday night the angel came down again to the 
house of Noe"h. "God says that now you arc to make 
a boat, as big as a train, and finish it in a week. God 
is very angry that the townspeople do not believe in 

So No6h paid carpenters to make the boat, and at 
the end of the week it was ready. The people went to 
look at the boat. "No6h is crazyl That is why he is 
making a boat!" 

By Sunday the boat was finished. "You have finished 
your work," said the angel. 

"Yes," said Noeli, "I have finished my work." 

"God has sent you another letter." 


The letter said, "You are to take pains to bring to- 
gether a pair of crows, a pair of vultures, a pair of 
little parroquets, a pair of turtledoves, a pair of little 
parrots, a pair of macaws, a pair of hummingbirds, a 
pair of rabbits, a pair of hares, a pair of deer, a pair 
of coyotes, a pair of eagles, a pair of turkeys, a pair of 
horses, a pair of burros, a pair of all the animals there 
are in the world, so the world may be replenished, and 
with all these animals you are to fill the boat." No6h 
put a stack of corn into the boat. 

Now it began to rain very hard, day and night, for 
a week. The water rose three meters, the boat began 
to stir. At the end of fifteen days the water was ten 
meters high, and the boat was two meters up. Now 
the houses were falling down because of the water. 
The people were crying out, "Nodh, please let us come 
into your boat! We will pay you!" But the boat was 
closed. Harder and harder fell the rains. At the end 
of three weeks the houses had disappeared. The waters 
lasted a month; no longer were die little mountains, 
like the one you see there [pointing to Yux, the forti- 
fied peak], to be seen. In the mountains the trees and 
the rocks were weeping, since, they were alone. The sea 
was making an end to the world. 

Now San Miguel the Archangel came forth and blew 
his trumpet at the four corners of the sky. "Be it heard 
in the world that now is the appointed day!" The 
boat mounted higher. Now Noe"h was about to reach 
the sky, by the road to the north; he stopped at the 
foot of the sky where there was a big mountain. On 
top of this mountain he stopped. Duri duri duri 
[speedily] the water began to dry up. The wind came, 


leveling the world, all the mountains fell down, the 
world was a plain. 

There came another letter to Noe*h. "Look, Noe"h, 
you are to send out the birds in pairs to see if the 
world is drying up." 

First to go forth was the vulture. He found cattle 
dead in the mud. He stayed to eat and brought back 
no report to Noh. Crow went forth. When he came 
back he said, "Now the earth is ready to sow, so that 
there may be ears of corn." Forth went turtledove. He 
returned, saying that the water was only up to his leg 
he has a very small leg, he is very small. Forth went 
parroquet. He came back and said, "Now the world 
is dry, now it is all right for the servant girl to bring 
us bread." Then all the animals went forth to look for 
a living. There came another letter to Noeli: "Now 
you can go forth with all your family. There is going 
to be a smoke in the world for the world to begin 

The boat rested on top of a big mountain. Noeli 
found a big pine tree. From a big hole in it a person 
came out. He had survived the water, only he and 
Noh and his family. Then Noh made himself an- 
other house and ranch. 

From Elsie Clews Parsons, Mitla, Town of the Souls, p. 
350. An interesting study, dedicated to the problem of 
Indian-Spanish relationships. 


A Song from the Fertility Rites 

Under the sky the eagle, there he abides, there far 

above us. 

Beautiful he appears. 
In his talons he holds his world. 
A gray garment he wears, a beautiful, living-moist 

garment of clouds. 

There he waits for the words of Tetewan. 
Bright-eyed he looks down upon his world. 
Towards the west his yes are turned. 
Bright-eyed he looks down upon die waters of life. 
His countenance radiates calamity. 
Magnificent is his eye, the sunl 
Red are his feet. 

There he abides, far away, above us. 
There he remembers those who live on this earth. 
Wide he spreads his wings over the earth. 
And beneath his wings the gods grant rain, the gods 

grant dew. 

Dew of life comes forth here on earth. 
His voice rises, above us. 
It is we who hear it, lovely are the words. . . . 
Tetewan even hears them, she who abides in the 


There the Mother hears him. 
And she responds; here we listen to the words of 



Here they meet with the words of the eagle, here they 

The words of the eagle fade away, far above the 

waters of life 

There, the words of the Mother drift . . . 
There they die away, far yonder, beneath the dome 

of the sky. 
Tar yonder the words vanish. 

From K. T. Preuss, Die Religion der Cora Indianer, p. 43. 



A phantasm, nothing else existed in the beginning; 
the Father touched an illusion, he grasped something 
mysterious. Nothing existed. Through the agency of 
a dream our Father Naimuena [he who is or has a 
phantasm] kept the mirage to his body, and he pon- 
dered long and thought deeply. 


Nothing existed, not even a stick to support the vi- 
sion: our Father attached the illusion to the thread 
of a dream and kept it by the aid of his breath. He 
sounded to reach the bottom of the appearance, but 
there was nothing. Nothing existed indeed. 


Then the Father again investigated the bottom of 
the mystery. He tied the empty illusion to the dream 
thread and pressed the magical substance upon it. 
Thus by the aid of his dream he held it like a wisp of 
raw cotton. 

Then he seized the mirage bottom and stamped 
upon it repeatedly, sitting down at last on his dreamed 



The earth-phantasm was now his, and he spat out 
saliva repeatedly so that the forests might grow. Then 
he lay down upon his earth and covered it with the 
roof of heaven. As he was the owner of the earth he 
placed above it the blue and the white sky. 


Thereupon, Rafuema, "the man who has the narra- 
tives," sitting at the base of the heavens, pondered, 
and he created this story so that we might listen to it 
here upon earth. 

Translated from K. T. Preuss, Die Religion und Mytho- 
logte der Uitoto, pp. 166 ff. The Uitolo of Colombia arc, 
in all their actions, thoughts, and dreams, guided by the 
mysterious moon processes of growing, waning, and regrow- 
ing. The divine being they revere most deeply is a represen- 
tation not of the unchangeable absolute, but of the proc- 
esses of becoming, dying, and resurrection. The earth is a 
creation of the moon. 



From Central America 



Eat, eat, while there is bread, 

Drink, drink, while there is water; 

A day comes when dust shall darken the air, 

When a blight shall wither the land, 

When a cloud shall arise, 

When a mountain shall be lifted up, 

When a strong man shall seize the city, 

When ruin shall fall upon all things, 

When the tender leaf shall be destroyed, 

When eyes shall be dosed in death; 

When there shall be three signs on a tree, 

Father, son, and grandson hanging dead on the 

same tree; 

When the battle flag shall be raised, 
And the people scattered abroad in the forests. 

Translated from D. G. Brinton, "The Books of Chilam 
Balam," in Essays of an Americanist, p. 503. The Books of 
Chilam Balam are the sacred books of the Maya of Yucatan 
and were named after their last prophet, Balam, who lived 
during the last decades of the fifteenth century and fore- 
told the coming of strangers from the east who would bring 
with them a new religion. The prompt fulfillment of his 
prediction enhanced greatly his reputation as a prophet, 
and prophecies uttered long before his time were later 
ascribed to his authority. In these Books of Chilam Balam 
we find besides prophecies, rituals, mythological accounts 
of the creation of the world, purely Mayan in origin, mate- 
rial which is clearly European. 




... It was only because these priests of ours were 
to come to an end when misery was introduced, when 
Christianity was introduced by the real Christians. 
Then with the true God, the true Dios, came the be- 
ginning of our misery. It was the beginning of tribute, 
the beginning of church dues, . . . the beginning of 
strife with blow-guns, the beginning of strife by tram- 
pling on people, the beginning of robbery by violence 
... a beginning of vexation. This was the origin of 
service to the Spaniards and priests, of service to the 
public prosecutors . . . while the poor people were 

They [the great Itzd] did not wish to join with the 
foreigners; they did not desire Christianity. They did 
not wish to pay tribute . . . Four hundreds of years 
and fifteen score years was the end of their lives; then 
came the end of their lives; because they knew the 
measure of their days. Complete was the month; com- 
plete the year; complete the night; complete the breath 
of life as it passed also. ... In due measure did they 
recite the good prayers; in due measure they sought 
the lucky days, until they saw the good stars enter into 
their reign; then they kept watch while the reign of the 
good stars began. Then everything was good. Then they 


adhered to the dictates of their reason. . . . The for- 
eigners made it otherwise when they arrived here. . . . 

. . . Give yourself up, my younger brothers, my 
older brothers, submit to the unhappy destiny of the 
Katun which is to come. If you do not submit, you 
shall be moved from where your feet are rooted. If 
you do not submit, you shall gnaw the trunks of trees 
and herbs. If you do not submit, I shall be as when 
the deer die, so that they go forth from your settle- 
ment. ... If you surrender yourselves, you shall follow 
Christ, when he shall come. Then his visitation shall 
end. Then shall come to pass the shaking of the Plu- 
meria flower. Then you shall understand. Then it shall 
thunder from the dry sky. Then shall be spoken that 
which is written on the wall. Then you shall set up 
God, that is, you shall admit his divinity to your 
hearts. I hardly know what wise man among you will 
understand. He who understands will go into the 
forest to serve Christianity. Who will understand it? 

From Ralph L. Roys, The Book of Chilam Balam Chu- 
maycl, pp. 78, 83, iaa. "The missionaries caused much suf- 
fering by forcibly moving country people from their homes 
:mcl collecting them in towns to facilitate their conversion 
to Christianity." 

The arrival of the Spaniards under Francisco Montejo in 
the year 154* sounded, as Sylvanus G. Morley says, the 
death knell of all native institutions, The Spanish priests 
were eager to convert the heathen as speedily as possible; 
and to do so they thought it necessary first to destroy ruth- 
lessly that which was dearest to the hearts of the Maya: 

SB 1 

their hieroglyphic manuscripts. The sorrow of a whole race, 
doomed to spiritual death, expressed itself in these Books 
of Chilean Balam, which preserve for us all that we know 
of the ancient history of Yucatan. "These manuscripts were 
written in the Maya language with the letters of the Spanish 
alphabet . . . the literary instinct of the Maya people, 
abruptly checked in purely native channels of expression 
such as the hieroglyphics, seems to have sought relief in 
this new writing, which had been prepared by the priest- 
hood to facilitate conversion." 

It was within fifty years of the Conquest that there came 
to be quite a number of these Books of Chilam Balam, most 
of which have much to recommend them, according to Syl- 
vanus Morley, as reliable sources for the reconstruction of 
Maya history. The Chumayel manuscript, however, is to 
be considered not so much as a historical chronicle but 
rather as a moving chant of sorrow and distress. See Syl- 
vanus G. Morley, The Historical Value of the Books of 
Chilam Balam. 



In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Spirit, Amen. Here I stand. Three times before you I 
stand. I bow down to God the Father, God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. Behold, my Lord, how I 
stand in your presence, God, and in the presence of 
die Lords of the Forests. Forgive me my sins. That 
you may not forget me without cause I offer these five 
calabashes of posol in order that the big men, the 
Lords of the Forest, who are the true Lords, may 
drink. The Lords of the Forest pass before to clear 
the roads. Behold, my Lord, the good intentions in the 
presence of the gods. I am making this drinking-offer- 
ing for my milpa. Forgive me, O my great masters. 
Accept then but one cool draught of posol that the 
anger that is in your heart [toward me] may be cooled. 
In the name of God the Master, God the Son, God 
the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

From J, Eric Thompson, The Mayas of Southern and 
Central British Honduras, p. 115. A strong influence of 
Christianity is apparent, yet the Lords o the Forest are the 
"true Lords." The Milpa is the field of the Maya which has 
been wrestled from the suffocating growth of the virgin 
forest by burning down the trees. 




After we learned the good, in knowing God our 
Lord as the only true God, leaving our blindness and 
idolatries, and Your Majesty as temporal lord, before 
we could well open our eyes to the one and the other, 
there came upon us a persecution of the worst that can 
be imagined; and it was in the year '62, on the part 
of the Franciscan religious, who had taken us to teach 
the doctrine, instead of which they began to torment 
us, hanging us by the hands and whipping us cruelly, 
hanging weights of stone on our feet, torturing many 
of us in a windlass, giving the torture of die water, 
from which many died or were maimed. 

Being in these tribulations and burdens, trusting in 
Your Majesty's Justice to hear and defend us, there 
came the Dr. Quijada to aid our tormentors, saying 
that we were idolaters and sacrificers of men, and 
many other things against all truth, which we never 
committed during our time of blindness and infidelity. 
And as we see ourselves maimed by cruel tortures, 
many dead of them, robbed of our property, and yet 
more, seeing disinterred the bones of our baptized 
ones, who died as Christians, we came to despair. 

Not content with this, the religious [i.e. the friars] 
and the royal Justice held at Mani a solemn auto of 
inquisition, where they seized many statues, disin- 
terred many dead and burned them there in public; 
made slaves of many to save Spaniards, . . . the one 


and the other gave us great wonder and fear, because 
we did not know what it all was, having been recently 
baptized, and not informed; and when we returned to 
our people and told them to hear and guard justice, 
they seized us, put us in prison and chains, like slaves, 
in the monastery at Me"rida, where many of us died; 
and they told us we would be burned, without our 
knowing the why. 

At this time came the bishop whom Your Majesty 
sent, who, although he took us from prison and re- 
lieved us from death and the sambenitos, has not re- 
lieved us from the shame of the charges that were 
made against us, that we were idolaters, human sacri- 
ficers, and had slain many men; because, at the last, he 
is of the habit of San Francisco and does for them. He 
has consoled us by his words, saying that Your Majesty 
would render justice. 

A receptor came from Mexico, and made inquiry, 
and we believe it went to the Audiencia, and nothing 
has been done. 

Then came as governor Don Luis de Ge'spedes, and 
instead of relieving us he has increased our burdens, 
taking away our daughters and wives to serve the 
Spaniards, against their wills and ours; which we feel 
so greatly that the common people say that not in the 
time of our infidelity were we so vexed or maltreated, 
because our ancestors never look from one his chil- 
dren, nor from husbands their wives to make use of 
them, as today docs Your Majesty's Justice, even to the 
service of the Negroes and mulattoes. 

And with all our afflictions and labors, we have 
loved the fathers and supplied their necessities, have 
built many monasteries for them, provided with orna- 


merits and bells, all at our cost and that of our vassals 
and fellows; although in payment of our services they 
have made of us their vassals, have deprived us of die 
signories we inherited from our ancestors, a thing we 
never suffered in the time of our infidelity. And we 
obey Your Majesty's Justice, hoping that you will send 
us remedy. 

One thing that has greatly dismayed and stirred us 
up, is the letters written by Fray Diego de Landa, 
chief author of all these ills and burdens, saying that 
Your Majesty has approved the killings, robberies, tor- 
tures, slaveries and other cruelties inflicted on us; to 
which we wonder that such things should be said of 
so Catholic and upright a king as is Your Majesty. If 
it is told that we have sacrificed men after we received 
baptism, it is a great and false witness invented by 
them to gild their cruelties. 

And if there have been or are idols among us, they 
are but those we have gathered to send to the religious 
as they required of us, saying that we had confessed 
to their possession under the torture; but all know 
that we went many leagues to gather from places 
where we knew that they had been kept by those 
before us, and which we had abandoned when we 
were baptized; and in good conscience they should not 
punish us as they have done. 

If Your Majesty wishes to learn of all, send a per- 
son to search the truth, to learn of our innocence and 
the great cruelty of the padres; and had not the bishop 
come, we should all have been brought to an end. 
And though we cherish well Fray Diego and the other 
padres who torment us, only to hear them named 
causes our entrails to revolt. Therefore, Your Majesty, 

send us other ministers to teach us and preach to us 
the law of God, for we much desire our salvation. 

The religious of San Francisco of this province have 
written certain letters to Your Majesty and to the gen- 
eral of the order, in praise of Fray Diego and his other 
companions, who were those who tortured, killed and 
put us to scandal; and they gave certain letters written 
in the Castilian language to certain Indians of then* 
familiars, and thus they signed them and sent them 
to Your Majesty. May Your Majesty understand that 
they are not ours, we who are chiefs of this land, and 
who did not have to write lies nor falsehoods nor con- 
tradictions. May Fray Diego de Landa and his com- 
panions suffer the penance for the evils they have 
done to us, and may our descendants to the fourth 
generation be recompensed the great persecutions that 
came on us. 

May God guard Your Majesty for many years in his 
sacred service and for our good and protection. 

From Yucatan, the lath of April, 1567. 


From William Gates, Yucatdn before and after the Con- 
quest, pp. 115-7. ^ ra y Diego de Landa, to whom the writer 
of die above letter repeatedly refers, is famous for having 
been one of the cruelcst missionaries of the Christian faith, 
and for having written an able account of the Maya culture, 
the Rclacidn de las Cosas de Yucatdn; he wrote in Spain, 
whence he was called on charges of cruelty. Smoothly he 
goes over the account of the Auto da ie where he let go up 
in flames the sacred books of the Maya, an act which "they 
took," as he concludes his narrative, "most grievously, and 
which, gave them great pain." Nevertheless, he gained the 
power of a bishop, and with the blessings of his homelands 


returned to Yucatan. However, the activities of a Fra 
Diego de Landa were severely critiazed not only by con- 
temporary members of the Franciscan Order but still more 
so by those of later times; today it is among the Franciscan 
Fathers that we find some of die most tolerant and under- 
standing anthropologists of our times. 



From Peru 



Viracocha, Lord of the Universe! 

Whether male or female, 

at any rate commander of heat and 

being one who, 

even with His spittle, can work sorcery. 
Where art thou? 
Would that thou wert not hidden 

from this son of Thinal 
He may be above; 
He may be below; 
or, perchance, abroad in space. 
Where is His mighty judgment seat? 
Hear mel 
He may be spread abroad among the 

upper waters; 
or among the lower waters and their 


He may be dwelling. 
Creator of the world, 
Creator of man, 
great among my ancestors, 
before Thee 
my eyes fail me, 
though I long to see Thee; 
for, seeing Thee, 
knowing Thee, 
learning from Thee, 


understanding Thee, 

I shall be seen by Thee, 

and Thou wilt know me. 

The Sun the Moon; 

the Day the Night; 

Summer Winter; 

not in vain, 

in orderly succession, 

do they march 

to their destined place, 

to their goal. 

They arrive 


Thy royal staff 

Thou bearest. 

Oh! Harken to me, 

listen to me, 

let it not befall 

that I grow weary 

and die. 

From P. Ainsworth Means, Ancient Civilizations of the 
Andes , p. 437. Means, on his part, derived this supplication, 
"typically Andean in tone and in spirit," from Dr. Miguel 
Mossi, who translated it into English from the 
text, printed in Lafone Qucvedo, 1891;, p. 339. 




To this my song 
Thou shalt sleep. 
In the dead of night 
I shall come. 

From ibid., p. 436. Derived from Garcilaso. In Inca times 
poetical compositions were verbally perpetuated by profes- 
sional bards called haravecs. The lyrical verse were un- 
rhymcd, but either rhythmical or cadenced. The Peruvians 
were a highly musical people and stand, in this regard, at 
the forefront of die pre-Spanish peoples of America. The 
old Andeans used either percussion instruments or wind 
instruments; most wide-spread was the use of the pan-pipe, 
made cither of reeds or of pottery, the trumpet, fashioned 
from shell, or from wood, clay, or metal; and flutes of many 
kinds, (See R. and M. d'Harcourt, La musique des Incas 
et ses survivances.) 




Wake up, woman, 
Rise up, woman, 
In the middle of the street 
A dog howls. 

May the death arrive, 
May the dance arrive, 

Comes the dance 
You must dance, 
Comes the death 
You can't help ill 

Ah! what a chill, 
Ah! what a wind. . . . 

From R. et M.d'Harcourt, La musique des Incas ct ses 
suruivances, p. 477. The lines of this strange dance song 
convey a weird feeling of grim joylulness; the spirit of the 
medieval dances macabres throbs behind these strophes. 




ALEXANDER, HARTLEY BURR. L'Art et La Philosophie 

DCS Indiens tie L'Amhique du Nord. Paris: Edi- 

tions Ernest Lcroux, 1926. 
BANDKLIKR, A. F, Final Report of Investigations among 

the Indians of the Southwestern United States. 

Cambridge, 1890. 
BENEDICT, RUTH F. "The Vision in Plains Culture," 

in The, American Anthropologist, N. S., 24, 1-2. 

. The of the Guardian Spirit in North 
America. The American Anthropological Associ- 
ation, Memoirs, No. 29, i <)$><$. 

. Patterns of Culture. Boston and New York: 
Houghion Mifllin Company, 1934. 

. Zuni Mythology. Columbia University Contribu- 
tions to Anthropology. New York, 1935. 

BOAS, FRANK. "T Jurat urc, Music, and Dunce." In Gen- 
eral Anthropology. Boston: D. C. Heath and Com- 
pany, 1938. 

. Race, Language, and Culture. New York: The 
Macmillan Company, 1940, 

BOGORAS, WAMW.MAR, "Primitive Ideas of Space and 
Time," Tn The American Anthropologist, N. S. 27 

KL, RUTH. The Pueblo Potter. Columbia Univer- 
sity Contributions to Anthropology, Vol. 8. New 
York: 1929. 



BUNZEL, RUTH (cont.). Introduction to Zuni Ceremo- 

nialism. 47th Annual Report of the Bureau of 

American Ethnology, Washington, 1930. 
BURTON, FREDERICK R. American Primitive Music. New 

York: Moffat, 1909. 
CUSHING, FRANK. Outlines of Zuni Creation Myths. 

i3th Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 

Washington, 1896. 
-- . Zuni Breadstuff. Museum of the American Indian, 

Heye Foundation, Vol. 8, New York, 1920. 
DENSMORE, FRANCES. Chippewa Music 1, 11. Bureau of 

American Ethnology, Bulletins, 45, 53. Washing- 

ton, 1910, 1913. 

-- . Teton Sioux Music. Ibid. 61 (1918). 
-- . Mandan and Hidatsa Music. Ibid. 80 (1923). 

- . Yuman and Yaqui Music. Ibid, no (1932). 

- . Nootka and Quileute Music. Ibid. 124 (1939). 
ESPINOSA, J. MANUEL, ed. First Expedition of De Var- 

gas into New Mexico i6pz f Albuquerque, 1940. 

Omaha Tribe, a^th Report of the Bureau of Amer- 

ican Ethnology, Washington, 1911. 
FORDE, C. DARYLL. Ethnography of the Yuma Indians. 

University of California Publications in American 

Archaeology and Ethnology t Vol. 38. Berkeley, 

Western Mono Myths. Anthropological Records of 
the University of California, Vol, 5, No. i. Ber- 
keley, 1940. 

GODDARD, R. P. Life and Culture of the Hupa. Uni- 
versity of California Publications in American 
Archaeology and Ethnology. Berkeley, 1903, 



HAEHERIJN, K. H. The Idea of Fertilization in the 
Culture of the Pueblo Indians. The American 
Anthropological Association, Memoirs, Vol. 3, Pt. 
i. Lancaster, Pa., 1916. 

HAILE, FATHER BKRARD. Origin Legend of the Navajo 
Enemy Way. Yale University Publications in An- 
thropology. New Haven, 1938. 

HARRIS, JACK S. "The White Knife Shoshoni of Nev- 
ada." In R. Linton, ed., Acculturation in Seven 
American Indian Tribes, New York: D. Appleton- 
Century Company, 1940. 

HERSKOVITS, MKLVILLE J. Acculturation, The Study of 
Culture Contact. New York, J. J. Augustin, 1938. 

HILL, W. W. "Navaho Rites for Dispelling Insanity 
and Delirium." In El Palacio, N. S., XLI, 14-16. 

. The. Agricultural and Hunting Methods of the 

Navaho Indians. Yale University Publications in 
Anthropology, No. 18. New Haven, 1938. 

KKNTON, EDNA. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Doc- 
uments. New York: A. and C. Boni, 1955. 

troduction to Navajo Chant Practice. The Ameri- 
can Anthropological Association, Memoirs. Men- 
asha, 1940. 

KROKUER, A. L. Handbook of the Indians of Califor- 
nia* Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 78. 
Washington, 1933. 

LOWIE, ROBERT H. The Religion of the Crow Indians. 
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum 
of Natural History f Vol. 9$, New York, 1933. 

. Studios in Plains Indian Folklore. University of 

California Publications in American Archaeology 
and Ethnology, Vol, 40, No. i. Berkeley, 193*. 




MICHELSON, TRUMAN. The Owl Sacred Pack of the Fox 
Indians. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 
72. Washington, 1921. 

PARSONS, ELSIE G. Mitla, The Town of the Souls. Chi- 
cago: Chicago University Press, 1936. 

PREUSS, K.ONRAD T. Die Religion und Mythologie der 
Uitoto. Leipzig, 1921. 

RASMUSSEN, KNUD. The Intellectual Culture of the 
Iglulik Eskimo. Copenhagen, 1929. 

REICHARD, GLADYS A. The Social Life of the Navafo. 
Columbia University Contributions to Anthropol- 
ogy, Vol. VII, New York, 1928. 

. Navajo Medicine Man. New York: J. J. Augustin, 


SPICER, E. H. Pascua, A Yaqui Village in Arizona. 
Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1940, 

SAPIR, EDWARD. "Culture, Genuine and Spurious." In 
American Journal for Sociology, XXIX (1924), 

. "Cultural Anthropology and Psychiatry." In Jour- 
nal of Abnormal Psychology, XXVII (193?), 229- 

. "The Emergence o the Concept o Personality 

in a Study o Culture." In Journal of Social Psy- 
chology, V (1934), 408-15. 

SPIER, LESLIE. Southern Dieguefio Customs. University 
of California Publications in American Archaeol- 
ogy and Ethnology, Vol. 20. Berkeley, 1923. 

. Yuman Tribes of the Gila River. Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press, 1933. 

. The Prophet Dance of the Northwest and its 

Derivatives: the Source of the Ghost Dance. Gen- 



cral Scries in Anthropology, Vol. I, Ft. i. Menasha, 


, and SAPIR, EDWARD. Wisfnam Ethnography. Uni- 
versity f)f Washington Publications in Anthropol- 
ogy, Vol. j{. Washington, 1930. 

SPINDKN, HKRBERT J. The Ncz Perc& Indians. The 
American Anthropological Association, Memoirs, 
Vol. a, 1908. 

. Songs of the Tciaa. Exposition of Indian Tribal 

Arts. Now York, 1933. 

THALIUTXKR, W. The Amassalik Eskimo. Copenhagen: 


TIIOMKSON, J, Eiac. The Religious Practices of the 
Maya of Southern and British Honduras. Field 
Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Se- 
ricst Vol. 27, i97- 

UNDKKUIM., Rimt. Autobiography ofaPapago Woman. 
llic American Anthropological Association, Afem* 
oirs, Vol. 46, 1936, 

. Singing for Power, The Song Magic of the Papago 

Indians of Soul/win Arizona, Berkeley, University 
of California Press, 1938. 

WAI.KJKR, J. R. The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies 
of the Oghila Division of the Teton Dakota. An- 
thropological Papers of the American Museum of 
Natural History t Vol. 46, 1936. 

rr, MARY C. Navajo Creation Myth of the 
e, lly flasteen Klah. Navajo Religion S<? 
ritss, Vol. I. vSanta FC": Museum of Navajo Ceremo- 
nial Art, 1949. 

WIHTK, I.KfiUR A. The Aroma Indians. 4^th Report of 
the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 



WHITE, LESLIE A. (cont.). The Pueblo of San Felipe, 
New Mexico. The American Anthropological As- 
sociation, Memoirs, Vol. 38, 1932. 

. The Pueblo of Santo Domingo, New Mexico. The 

American Anthropological Association, Memoirs, 
Vol. 43, 1935. 

WISSLER, CLARK. Ceremonial Bundles of the Blackfoot 
Indians. Papers of the American Museum of Nat- 
ural History , Vol. 7, 1912. 

. The American Indian, An Introduction to the 

Anthropology of the New World. 3rd ed. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1938. 


ALEXANDER, HARTLEY BURR. North American Mythol- 
ogy. Boston: Marshall Jones Company, 1916. 

BENEDICT, RUTH FULTON. Tales of the Cochiti Indians. 
Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 98. Wash- 
ington, 1931. 

BLACK HAWK. Autobiography of Black Hawk, as dic- 
tated by himself to Antoine LeClair, 1833. Iowa: 
Historical Society of Iowa. Reprint 1932. 

BOAS, FRANZ. The Ethnology of the Kwakiutl. 35th 
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Eth- 
nology. Washington, 19x1. 

. "Eskimo Tales and Songs." In Journal of Ameri- 
can Folklore, VII, 1894. 

. Folk Tales of Salishan and Sahaptin Tribes. New 

York: American Folklore Society, 1917. 

. The Religion of the Kwakiutl Indians. Columbia 

University Contributions to Anthropology f Vol. 10. 
New York, 1930. 


i-iHjunv.rt.i~ n. x 

BRINTON, DANIEL G. Ancient Nahuatl Poetry. Library 
of American Aboriginal Literature, Vol. 7. Phila- 
delphia, 1887. 

- . "The Books of Chilam Balam." In Essays of an 
Americanist. Philadelphia, 1890. 

- . "Native American Poetry." In Essays of an Amer- 
icanist, 1890. 

BUNZKL, RUTH L. Zufii Katcina: An Analytical Study- 
47th Annual Report of the Bureau o American 
Ethnology. Washington, 1932. 

- . Zufii Ritual Poetry. 47th Ibid., Washington, 1932. 

- . Zufii Texts. Publications of the American Ethno* 
logical Society, Vol. 15. New York: Stcchert, 1933. 

BURTON, FREDERICK. American Primitive Music. New 

York: Mollat, 1909. 
COOLIDGE, DANK and MARY R. The Navajo Indians. 

Boston and New York: Houghton Mifilin, 1930. 
GUSHING, FRANK. Outlines of Zufii Creation Myths. 

i3th Annual Report of the Bureau of American 

Ethnology. Washington, 1896. 
DKLORIA, KT.LA. Dakota Texts. Publications of the 

American Ethnological Society, Vol. 314. New York: 

Stcchcrt, 1933. 
DENIO, EDWIN T. Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri. 

46th Annual Report of the Bureau of American 

Ethnology, Washington, 1930. 
DENSMORE, FRANCES. Chippetaa Music, l t II. Bureau of 

American Ethnology Bulletins 45, 53. Washington, 

Tcton Sioux Music. Ibid, 61, 1918. 

. Papa^o Music. Ibid. 90, 1939. 

. Pawnee Music. Ibid. 93, 1939. 

, NooLka and Quileute Music. Ibid. 124, 1939. 

S5 1 


DENSMORE, FRANCES (cont.). Music o] Santo Domingo 
Pueblo, New Mexico. Southwest Museum Papers, 
No. is. Los Angeles, 1938. 

D'HARCOURT, RAOUL et MARIE. La musique des Incas 
et ses survivances. Paris, 1925. 2 vol. 

DORSEY, GEORGE A. Traditions of the Skidi Pawnee. 
American Folklore Society. Boston and New York: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1904. 

. The Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Car- 
negie Institution of Washington, 1905. 

. The Pawnee Mythology. Washington: Carnegie 

Institution of Washington, 1906. 

DRAKE, SAMUEL G. Biography and History of the In- 
dians of North America. Boston, 1851. 

DuBois, CONSTANCE GODDARD. "Mythology of the Mis- 
sion Indians." In Journal of American Folklore, 
Vol. 19, 1906. 

. The Religion of the Luiseno Indians. University 

of California Publications in American Archaeol- 
ogy and Ethnology , Vol. 8. Berkeley, 1908. 

Myths. University of California Publications in 
American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 28, 
No. 5. Berkeley, 1931. 

dian. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifllin, 

EGGAN, DOROTHY. "The General Problem of Hopi Ad- 
justment." The American Anthropologist, N. S. 
XLV (1943), 357-73. 

FLETCHER, ALICE. Indian Story and Song from North 
America. Boston: Small, Maynard 8c Co., 1900. 

, and LAFLESCHE, FRANCIS. The Omaha Tribe. 37 th 



Annual Report of the Bureau of American Eth- 
nology. Washington, 1911. 

FORDK, C. DARYLL. Ethnography of the Yuma Indians. 
University of California Publications in American 
Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 28, No. 4. Berke- 
ley, 1931. 

GATES, WILLIAM. Yucatdn before and after the Con- 
quest. Baltimore: The Maya Society, 1937. 

GODDARD, PLINY EARLK. Gotal: A Mescalero Apache 
Ceremony. Puinam Anniversary Volume. New 
York: Siediert, 1909. 

. The Masked Dancers of the Apache. Holmes An- 
niversary Volume. Washington, 1916. 

. Navajo Texts. Anthropological Papers of the 

American Museum of Natural History f Vol. 34. 
New York, 1933. 

HOIJKK, HARRY. Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache 
Texts. With ethnological notes by M. E. Opler. 
The University of Chicago Publications in Anthro- 
pology, Linguistic Scries. Chicago, 1938. 

HALF,, HORATIO. The Iroquois Book of Rites, Phila- 
delphia, 1883. 


KROKHKR, A. L. Handbook of the Indians of California. 
Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 78. Wash- 
ington, i9fj, 

, "Wishosk Myths." In Journal of American Folk- 
lore, Vol. 18, 1905. 

FRANCIS. The Osage Tribe: The Rite of 
Annual Report of the Bureau of Amer- 
ican Ethnology. Washington, 1985. 
. The War Ceremony and Peace Ceremony of the 



Osage Indians. Bureau of American Ethnology, 
Bulletin 101. Washington, 1939. 

LOWIE, ROBERT H. The Asstniboine. Anthropological 
Papers of the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, Vol. 4, Pt. i. Washington, 1909. 

. The Religion of Hie Crow Indians. Ibid., 25, igss. 

MATTHEWS, WASHINGTON. Navajo Legends. The Amer- 
ican Folklore Society. Boston and New York: 
Houghton Mifllin, 1897. 

. Navajo Myths, Prayers, and Songs. University of 

California Publications in American Arcliaeology 
and Ethnology, Vol. 5. Berkeley, 1907. 

MEANS, PHILIPP AINSWORTH. Ancient Civilizations of 
the Andes. New York: Scribncr's, 1931. 

MICHELSON, TRUMAN. The Owl Sacred Pack of the Fox 
Indians. Bureau o American Ethnology, Bulletin 
72. Washington, 1921. 

. On the Fox Indians. 4oth Annual Report of the 

Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington, 1925. 

. Fox Miscellany. Bureau o American Ethnology, 
Bulletin 114. Washington, 1937. 

MOONEY, JAMES. Sacred Formulas of the 
7th Annual Report of the Bureau of American 
Ethnology. Washington, *8gi. 

. The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Out- 
break of 1800. i4th ibid*, 1896. 

. Myths of the Cherokees, igth ibid,, 1900. 

MORLEY, SYLVANUS. The Historical Value of the Hooks 
of Chilam Balam. Papers of the Archaeological In- 
stitute of America, No. 19, 1911. 

NEXHARDT, JOHN G. Black Elk Speaks, the Life Story 
of an Oglala Sioux. New York, 1932. 

OPLER, MORRIS EDWARD. An Apache Life Way f the 



Economic, Social, and Religious Institutions of the 
Chinrafiua Indians. University of Chicago Publi- 
cations in Antliropology, Ethnological Scries. Chi- 
cago, 1941. 

PARSONS, ELSIK CI.KWS. Mitla, Town of the Souls, Ibid., 

PIUNNKY, ARCIIIK. Ncz Percd Texts. Columbia Univer- 
sity Contributions to Anthropology, Vol. 25. New 
York, 1034. 

PREUSS, KONKAD T. Die. Nayarit-Expedition, Textauf- 
nahrncn und lieobachlungen untcr M cxikanischen 
Indiancm, Hand I: Die Religion dcr Cora Indianer. 

. Die Religion und Mythologie der Uitoto. Leipzig, 

RAPIN, PAW.. Crashing Thunder, the Autobiography 

of an American Indian. New York: D. Appleton 

Co., KjaC, 
RASMUS.SKN, KNUD. The Intellectual Culture of the 

fglulilt Eskimos, Copenhagen: Gyldendalske bog- 

hantlcl, 19149. 
, Observations on the, Intellectual Culture of the 

Caribou tishimvs. C^oiinhagcn, 1930. 

thtt Copper Eskimos. Report of the Canadian Arctic 

Expedition, ryi3-it)i8, Vol. 14, ig5. 
ROYS, RALPH. The fiook of Chilam Balam Chumayel 

Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 

Russicr,, FRANK. The Pima Indians, j6th Annual Re- 
port of the Hurcau of American Ethnology. Wash- 
ington, 1904. 



SAHAGUN, BERNARDINO DE. A History o\ Ancient Mex- 
ico. Translated by Fanny R. Bandolier. Nashville: 
Fisk University Press, 1932. 

SAPIR, EDWARD. Takelma Texts. Washington, 1909. 

SPECK, FRANK G. A Study of the Delaware Indian Big 
House Ceremony. Publications of the Pennsylvania 
Historical Commission, Vol. 2. Harrisburg, 1931. ' 

SPIER, LESLIE. Havasupai Ethnography. Anthropo- 
logical Papers of the American Museum of Natural 
History, Vol. 29. New York, 1928. 

. Yuman Tribes of the Gila River. University of 

Chicago Publications in Anthropology, Ethnolo- 
gical Series. Chicago, 1933. 

. The Prophet Dance of the Northwest and its 

Derivatives: The Source of the Ghost Dance. Gen- 
eral Series in Anthropology f Vol. i. Mcnasha: 1935. 

SPINDEN, HERBERT J. The Nez Percd Indians. The 
American Anthropological Association, Memoirs, 
Vol. , Pt. 3, Lancaster, 1908. 

. Songs of the Tewa. Exposition of Indian Tribal 
Arts. New York, 1933. 

. In Folk Tales of Salishan and Sahaptin Tribes, 
ed. by Franz Boas. Lancaster, Pa., 1917. 

STEVENSON, MATHILDE Cox. The Religious Life of the 
Zuni Child. 5th Annual Report of the Bureau of 
American Ethnology. Washington, 1887. 

. The Sia. nth ibid., 1894. 

STEWARD, JULIAN H. Two Paiutc Autobiographies. 
University of California Publications in American 
Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 33, Pt. 5. Berke- 
ley. 1934- 

SWANTON, JOHN R. Tlingit Myths and Texts, ggth An- 


nual Repoi t of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 
Washington, 1909. 

SIMMONS, LKO W., ccl. Sun CJiiaf, The Autobiography 
of a ffofti Indian. Instituie of Human Relations. 
New Haven: Yale University PIC.SS, 1942. 

TEIT, JAMKS. In Folktales of Salishan and Sahaptin 
Tribes, ed. by Fran/. Boas. Lancaster, Pa.: 1917. 

THOMPSON, J. Euic:. The, Mayas of Southern and Cen- 
tral British Honduras. Field Museum of Natural 
Itistory, Anthropological Series, Vol. 17. Chicago, 

UNDKRHII.I., RUTH. The Autobiography of a Papago 
Woman. The American Anthropological Associa- 
tion, Memoirs t Vol. ^(i. Menasha, 1936. 

. Singing for Power, the Song Magic of the Papago 
Indians of Southern Arizona. Berkeley, 1938. 

WI&SLKK, OIARK. Mythology of the. lilackfoot Indians. 
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum 
of Natural History, Vol. a. New York, 1908. 

. Ceremonial Bundles of the ttlackfoot Indians. 

Ibid., Vol. 7, 1912. 


Selected lilies of books written or dedicated by 
aborigines of America 1 

From the; Plains 

i. The Autobiography of Black I-Iawk, 1838, ed. by 
J. B. Patterson, i88tt, (Sac). 

*J?or a complete list e< Clyde Kluckhohn, "The Personal Doc- 
ument in Amhiopologicul -Science," in Oolt.schalk, The Use of 
Persmtal Dnnnnnnts (New York: Social Science Research Council) 
I>- 1<J 4 -78- 



s. CHARLES A. EASTMAN (Ohiyesa) 

From the Deep Woods to Civilization: chapters 
in the autobiography of an Indian. Boston: 
Little, Brown, 1916. 

The Soul of the Indian. Boston and New York: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1911. 

3. American , the life story of a great Indian, by Frank 
B. Linderman. New York: The John Day Com- 
pany, 1930. 

4. Black Elk Speaks, The Life Story of an Oglala 
Sioux , as told to John G. Neihardt. New York, 1932. 

5. Chief Longlance Buffalo Child, autobiography. 
New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corp., 1928. 

6. The Autobiography of a Fox Woman, ed. by Tru- 
man Midielson. Annual Report of the Bureau of 
American Ethnology. No. 40, 1918-19. 

7. CHIEF STANDING BEAR. The Land of the Spotted 
Eagle. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifllin, 


8. Crashing Thunder, the Autobiography of an Amer- 
ican Indian, ed. by Paul Radin. New York: D. Ap- 
pleton, 1926. 

From the Northwest 

CHARLES JAMES NOWELL (Kwakiutl). Smoke from Their 
Fires, ed. by Chellan S. Ford. New Haven: Yale 
University Press, 1940. 

From the Southwest 

i. DON C. TALAYESVA. Sun Chief, Autobiography of 
a Hopi, ed. by Leo W. Simmons. New Haven: Yale 
University Press, 1942. 



a. Autobiography of a Papago Woman, ed. by Ruth 
Underbill. The American Anthropological Associa- 
tion, Memoirs, Vol. 46, 1936. 

g. Two Paiulc Autobiographies, as told to Julian H. 
Steward. Uniwnity of California Publications in 
American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 33, 
No. 5, 193/1- 

4. Son of Old Man l f lal, a Navajo autobiography re- 
corded by Walter Dyk. New York: Hai court, Brace 
8c Co., 



Acculturation, 53 scq.; ar, 
t,cq. (Hopi); 319 *<(/. (/apo- 
tei); AW: /t Christianity 

Acoma, r,(5 (pantheon), fi.i 

Adjustment, ar,a At-r/. (Hopi) 

Allouoz, Father, r,.[ 

Amassalik Eskimo, 31; aec 
rtfco lUskimu 

Ancestors, iCg (Delaware); 
Af al.w Spiuis ol the dead; 
KaU'iiuis; Kosliain 

Apache, 13 

Assiuiboino, 93 ,w;c/. 

Atkinson, General, 141, 142 

Balam, Books of OlUlam, 3y 


Baptism, ritual of, r v ( ,^c/. 
Bonodiot, Butli, (> (Xufti my- 

Big House Ooromony, Dola- 

wavo, 1 60 ,s(/.; i(5y (syml)ol- 


Black Elk, 41, 132 
Blackfoot Indians, 4* 
Black Hawk, i^ M(J. 
Boas, Franz, 7, iG 
Bogoras, V,, ai 
Btbaton, Daniel 0-,, r t , 311 
Bundle, sacred, 114, ir^, iijr, 
Buazol, Buth, o (tr<mi)ution 

from the '/uui); ajja (Xufti 

ritual poetry) 

Oatharaifl (through nong), 30 
Oherokeo Indians, 176 scq. 
Children, 39 xcq. (education 

in quietude and reticence); 

ioH, 344 (education) 

Ohippewa Indians, as, 557; 37 
scq. (psychotheiapy); 46 
(songs received dining a vi- 
sion), 49 (death song) 

Christianity, 53 i,cq. (influ- 
tmc on iiboiiginal culture), 
Hr, AC*/.; 145 (Ghost Dance); 
1(13; 2(4 eq. (Hopl); 319 
A<V/. (/apotec); 3159 scqi. 
(Hooks of CUuIam Balam); 
331 ac/y. (Maya); 333; 334. 

Climate and language, 9 

CloudH (and spirits of the 
dead), a a 7 

Clowning, ceremonial, 35 

Contest flonf?, 30 &eq. 

Contrast and parallel phras- 
ing, 14 

Corn, lofi wq. (Pawnee wor- 
ship of Mother-Corn); 833 
C/nni); set: ulw Mni'/ti 

Corn Dance in Santo Do- 
mingo, 38 t>cq, 

Council Song (Teion Sioux), 

Coyote, 117 t>eq. ( atid origin 
oC death: Oaddo); 118 *<?</.; 
sOt (and origin o death); 

Creation Myth, 96 j<?<j.' 
(Osage): <o sr.q. (7uni); 563 
(LuiNcfio); 367 &eq, (Mari- 
copa); 378 scq. (Wishosk); 
390 seq. (related during 
mourning ceremony: Tlin- 
git); 30 (Ulloio) 

Crow Indiana, 10; 15 (ora- 


tory); 20 (war song); 48 
(death song) 

Oaring power, 23 (inherent in 
all song); 204 seq. (that 
fails: Chincahua); 211; 265 
(curing song- Yuma); 266 
(Yuma); 270 (song), 277 
(medicine formula 1 Takel- 
ma); 297 seq. (Shamans and 
their training) 

Gushing, F., 5, 54, 242 

Dance song, 303 (Copper Es- 
kimo); 344 (Peruvian); see 
also Song 

Dead, spirits of the, 35; iia 
peq. (Pawnee), 151 (Fox); 
226 (Song of the departing 
spirit. Santo Domingo); 227 
seq. (Song of a child's spirit: 
Santo Domingo); 229 (Katci- 
nas); 238 (Prayer to the 
Ancients: Zufii); 280 (Love 
song of the dead: Kwakiutl); 
296 (Iglulik Eskimo); 301 
(the land of the dead: Eski- 
mo); see also Katcinas; Ko- 
shairi, Spirits; Death 

Death, 22; 24 (fear of death); 
35 (Koshairi): 38; 84 (Origin 
of- Coeur D'Alene); 91 
(Crow); 102 (Osage); 117 
(Origin of: Caddo); 133; 
134; 152 (Fox); 169 (Dela- 
ware); 170 seq. (Iroquois); 
224 (Origin of: Cochiti); 

261 (Coyote and: Wintu); 

262 (Luiseflo); 288 (Tlingil); 
310 (Aztec) 

Death Song, 47 seq.; 196 (Pa- 


De Landa, Fray Diego, 337 
Delorla, Ella, 16 


Densmore, Frances, 5, 17, 26, 
49, 76, 105, 226 

De Vargas, 61 

Dieguefio, Southern, 50 seq. 

Dream, 38 (Chippewa); 43 
&eq. (-song); 76 (-f>ong); 
86; no seq. (Pawnee), 121 
seq, (Sioux), 195 (Papago), 
257 (in Paiute cultiuc); 
259 wq. (Spier on dream) 

Du Peron, Francois, 45 

Dying, ceremonial, 22 seq. 

Education, 39 seq. (in silence 
and quietude); 244 (Hopi); 
318 (of piicsts in ancient 

Eggan, Dorothy, 252 

Enemy Way, 24 

Eskimo, 21; 28 seq. (.songs); 
30 (contest song); 31 (Amas- 
salik Eskimo); 51 (song and 
underworld); see al&o Iglu- 
lik Eskimo; Amassalik Eski- 

Evil-chasing Chant, 24 

Fox Indians, 23 
Franciscan Fathers, 338 

Gayton, A. K., 6 
Ghost Dance, 58, 86, 143 seq. 
Ooddard, P. ., 21 
Great League, Iroquois, 170 

Haiku, Japanese, 16, 79 
Halle, Father Berard, 24 
Harvest festival of Papago, 

199 seq, 

Havasupai, 259 
Healing songs, , 28 seq. 
Hell, doctrine of, 55 seq. 


Hethushka society of Oma- 

ha, 133 

Heyoka ceremony, 132 
Hidatsa Indians, 10 
HiU, W. W., si 
Holzapfel, B. M., 38 
Hop! Indians, 7 ,wvy. (behavior 

and language 1 ); 848 teq. 

(lile and white man's educa- 

tion); 253 saq. (malad)iisL- 

Horse, no scq. (in Pawnee 

mythology); 183 (Wat God's 

horse son^' Navajo) 
Hozdni fmtdl, 3 scq. 
Humor, 90 
Hunting magic, fh i>cq. 

Hupa Indiana, 20 
Huron Indiana, 45 (dream); 


Iglu.Hk Eskimo, 30 (contest 
soup;); iji: xac also Ksklmo 

Illinois Indians, Go 

Image, 168 (oi Man item in ttig 
House Ceremony, Delaware); 
sHG (The that came to Hie: 

Individual songs, s6 scq. 
Iroqtuols, 48; 170 scq. (Con- 

Jesuit Fathers, 41, 45, 48 
Juridical drum songa, 30 

Katotnas, asg, 245 seq,; mo 

also Dead; Koshnlri 
Kcofcuk, 140 

Kluoknohn, Clyde, aO, 553 
Koshalrl, 53 we/., S5 
Kwakiutl Indians, 6 seq. (so- 

cial l)Chavior and vocabu- 


LaFlSsche, Francis, 14, 16 

Lakota, 39 

Lamentation, 151! (Fox); 170 
(Iroquois); 310 (Aztec); 314 
!>eq. (A?tec) 

Language, 5 scq.; 11; n 
(ihyinc); 19 (icpetition) 

LoJeune, Paul, 40 

Love song, 77 (Clnppcwa); 79 
(Chippewa); 130 (Dakota), 
175 (Spell: Cheiokec); ao8 
(Chincaluia); 323 (Tcwa), 
878 (Nootka); s?8o (-oC the 
dead); 316 (Aztec); 343 (In- 

Lowio, Robert H., 10, 15, ao, 

Maize, 100 (Osagc); sec aha 


Mandan Indians, 27 (songs) 
Manitou of the Fox Indians, 

146 seq., 149, X53 seq. 
Maricopa, Sfl, 44 (dream) 
Marq,uette, Father, Go 
Matthews, Washington, 3, 5, 

Maya Indians, so, 58 50*7. 

(al)original belief and Chris- 

tian influences); 339 ssq. 

(influence of Christianity) 
Metaphor, 6 
Mlohelson, Truman, 33 
MidS, as; 75 (songs) 
Moderation, 40 
Mohave Indians, 43 
Moon, 394 (Cora); 3x6 seq, 


Moonoy, James, 144, 177 
Moral standards of Indians 

compared with standards 

of whites, 140 

Morley, Silvanus 0-., 331 seq. 
Mourning, us seq. (Pawnee); 



149 (Fox); 152 (Fox): 224 
(Pueblo); 235 seq. (Zufii), 
289 (songs- ThngiL), 290 
seq. (Thngit) 

Mourning rite, Osage, loa 

Musical instruments, Inca, 

Myth-relating, 292 

Nature, unity with, 31 seq. 

Navajo Indians, 3 (relation 
to the word); 13 (use of 
repetition); si; 23 seq. (cur- 
ing ceremonies); 29, 184 
(comparison with South Si- 
berian tribes) 

Newman, Stanley S., 6 

Nez Perce" Indians, 85 seq., 

NOOtka T^flliyng, 26 

Ohiyesa, 41, 52, 128 seq. 

Omaha Indians, 42 (xcti- 
ccnce); 51 seq. (funeral cus- 
tom); 133 (death); 134 

Oratory, 85 (Smohalla- Ncz 
Perce); 87 (Chief Josephs: 
Nez Perce); 88 (Nez Perce); 
151 (Fox); 161 seq. (Speech 
of the Soneca Chief Red 
Jacket); 166 (Delaware) 

Organization and language, 


Osage Indiana, 14; 99 (sun 
symbolism); 102 seq. (mourn- 
ing rite) 

Ottawa, 48 

15 seq., 32, 



Parallel phrasing, 14 
Parsons, Elsie 0., 55, 

Phtaney, Archey, 16, go 
Picuris Indians, 52 
Plains Indians, 53 seq. 
Pragmatic function of song, 


Prayer, g (Zufii); 80 (to the 
Sun: Blackfool); 93 (Assnu- 
boine), 95 (Assimhoinc), 123 
(Sun Dance: Teton Sioux); 
135 (Omaha); 160 (Wmne- 
bago); 185 !>aq. (Navajo); 
197 (Papago); 203 (Havasu- 
pai); og (Chiiicnhua): 331 
seq. (ZAifii); 233 6C</ (/ufu); 
238 (Zufii); 271 (YokutH); 
281 (Kwakiutl); 283 seq. 
(Kwakmtl); 285 (Kwakiutl); 
309 (Aztec); 333 (Maya), 341 
i>eq. (Inca) 

Psychiatry, 24; 29 seq.; 37 
seq. (Chippewa); 43 (Educa- 
tion in reticence) 

Puberty ceremonies for girls, 
$06 seq. (Cluricahua); s6 
seq. (Apache) 

Pueblo religion, essence of, 

Bain songg* 192 (Pima); 198 
(Papago); 204 (Papago); 443 

Basmusaen, Knud, 16, 28 seq., 

5>. 95 
Beblrth, 285 (Kwakiutl); 301 

(Caribou Eskimo) 
Bepetitio'n, n teq.; 14 (In 

prose); ijj seq. (oratory) 
Bhyme, 11 
Bhythm and language, 13 

Sahagun, Bernardino de, 318 
Saints, 57 

San Felipe Pueblo, Christ- 
mas ceremonies at, 65 seq. 



Santo Domingo Pueblo, Corn 
Banco at, 32 seq. 

Sapir, Edward, 5, 38 

Secret, 43 .</. 

Seler, Edward, 311 

Sequoyah, 177 

Serpent, ijo s>cq. 

Shaman, 297 

Shipap, ai, a7 

Silence, 39 .</., iaH w*/. 

Similarities, cultural, 145 

Sitting Bull, 127 

Sleep-inducing formulae, 10 

Smohalla, 85 ,</. 

Solitude, 39 seq., iso, 399 

Song, ir, (s as mnemonic de- 
vices); su (word .UK! tune); 
aa seq. (-s of healing); ar, 
M(f. (accuracy of woid se- 
quence); a(> .w</. (individual 
H); 30 (contest songs: Eskl- 
mo); 31 srq. (- of growth); 
35 (pragmatic function o 
all song); 30 (the as di- 
recting force in all ccro- 
motiy); 43 .<</. ( acciulrcd, 
in vision and in dream); 47 
seij. (the death--): f><> ( " 
cendctl from the under- 
world); 78 (mnemonic de- 
vice); aoo ( -among the 
Papago); 370 (curing power 
Inherent in): jog (dunce 
: Copper Kskimo) 

Spook, Frank, iGQ 

Spior, Leallo, 7; 83 (quoted 
on the curing song); 491; 44 
(dream); 50; fi; 140 (on 
ghost dance); ($0 seq. (on 

Splndon, HerDert J., u seq., 
85 seq., 87, ai seq. t g 

Spirits of the dead, 35, 10 o, 
na iicq., see aho Dead; 
Katcinas; Koshairi 

Standing Bear, 39, 47 (on 
death song) 

Stars, ga (Assinlboinc); 108 
(Pawnee); 179 (Cherokee) 

Stevenson, Mathilda, 33% 

Storytelling, 199 (Papago) 

Style of language, 5, 11 

Suicide, 130 scq. 

Sun symbolism, 99 (Osage); 
34 (Coia) 

Supernatural help, 120 (Re- 
quest for: Sioux); 146 seq. 
(Fox); 156 \eq. (Winncbago); 
210 (Chiricahua); an teq. 
(Chiricahua); 2157 (Paiute) 

Symbolism, 169 ( of Big 
House Ceremony: Dela- 
ware); 193 (rain); 213 (col- 
or: Apache); 216 seq. 
(color: Apache); 324 (Cora) 

Taoe, Fiesta of San Cteronl- 

mo at, 61 scq, 
Tewa Indians, 931 scq. 
Thalbiteer, W., 17, 30 
Theodicy, uoij 
Thompson, J. Eric, 58 
Thought and reality, 9 

(Hopi); iG8 
Tirawa, 105, 114 
Tllngit Indians, 32 
Translating, the art of, 3 seq. 

XTltoto, 20, 326 

"Underbill, Suth, 6, 15 seq., 

Vision, 43 (deliberately sought 
); 40 (Plains Indians) 


Wakonda, 104 (Osage); 135 Word, 19 seq, (creative power 

(Omaha) of the); 39 (inflation of 

War songs, 91 (Crow); 104 the ) 

(Osage); 109 (Pawnee); 124 

(Teton Sioux); 133 (Oma- Yirma Indians, 42 (reticence); 

ha); 134 (Omaha); 193 (Pa- 43 seq. (dream) 

pago); 318 seq, (Aztec) 

Wheelwright, Mary 0., 95 Zapotec Indians, 55 

White, Leslie A*, 56, 64 Zufil Indians, 8 seq. (climate 

Whorf, B. L., 7 (Hopi be- and vocabulary), 54 (abo- 

havior and language) riginal belief and Christlan- 

Wlnnebago Indians, 58 ity); 231 seq. (ceremony of 

Wishram, 42 (reticence) presenting the child to the 

Wissler, Clark, 49, So sun); 935 seq.